Juffe-Bignoli D. and Darwall W.R.T (eds.) (2012). Assessment of the socio-economic value of freshwater species for the northern African region. Gland, Switzerland and Málaga, Spain: IUCN. IV + 84 pages.
Every day of our lives we benefit from what nature provides for us. The food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, even our mobile phones and computers have been manufactured with natural resources extracted from species and ecosystems that have played a major role in our success as a civilization. In technologically advanced societies this link to nature may seem distant and probably irrelevant, but it is there through complex supply chains, and we still depend on it. In many parts of the world people rely on the resources nature provides by using them directly, selling them or working in activities that exploit them. Even so, despite the innumerable services that nature provides, for centuries we have consumed these resources as if they were infinite, destroying habitats, putting thousands of species at risk and causing the extinction of many others.
IUCN has recognized the importance of integrating information on species conservation status with the socio-economic benefits they provide. The aim here is to link IUCN Red List data on the extinction risk for 877 species across northern Africa with information on these freshwater species’ socioeconomic value, and to evaluate levels of dependence on wetland services in conjunction with the known threats faced by the species underpinning these services. The results of this project have enabled IUCN to identify species of high socio-economic importance and the threats to their long-term survival and sustainable use. Actions needed to ensure the future sustainable use of these resources are discussed. Such an integrated approach aims to greatly strengthen the body of evidence in support of the case for conserving wetland biodiversity. Nonetheless, species and ecosystems should not be protected just because they are useful to humans, but because biodiversity sustains all life on earth, including humankind.