Saving biodiversity - the debate


Current levels of spending on biodiversity conservation fall far short of what's needed. But if the extra funding became available, what would be the most cost-effective way to use it?

World Conservation asked leading environmentalists to outline their priorities (read what they said here). Keen to hear the views of our wider readership, we then opened up the question for an online debate, moderated by IUCN experts, and had some interesting feedback (see below).

Thank you to all who posted comments - your views are important to us and will help guide IUCN's priority work area on 'greening the economy'. We have prepared the following summary of the comments:

The responses varied significantly in their recommended use of new funds for conservation. Many respondents emphasized that better use of existing funds could go a long way, by ensuring that more resources were available for implementation at the local level.

The emphasis on local-level action was echoed in several comments calling for the promotion of alternative (non-destructive) economic activities for communities living in or near protected areas. Ecotourism was singled out as a means of encouraging conservation while supporting local livelihoods. The need to improve the sustainability of farming techniques was also seen as an essential local-level action.

Other specific suggestions included:

• restoration of currently degraded areas,
• a focus on key threatened species and areas,
• improving connectivity between critically endangered ecosystems (e.g. through biodiversity corridors), and
• purchasing land, especially in areas with high levels of biodiversity.

In addition to local action, some recommendations focused on actions at the national or global level. The most commonly expressed priority was to invest more resources in environmental education and awareness-raising. Participants also noted the urgent need to build a stronger economic case for conservation, and suggested that public education, social networks, and media campaigns could be used better to ‘sell’ biodiversity.

Others suggested that the integration of biodiversity concerns into development planning and projects at all levels and in all economic sectors would be a cost-effective strategy for supporting conservation. Finally, and more controversially, several respondents focussed on the issue of human population growth, which they saw as the most significant threat to biodiversity.

For more information please contact David Huberman, Network Coordinator for IUCN's work on greening the economy; email:


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