Costa Rica paid 200 million USD to its farmers to protect ecosystems. In doing so, it saved 460,000 hectares of forests and contributed to the well-being of 8.000 people. Such payments for ecosystem services are one way to reward unrecognised benefits of good ecosystem management.
Costa Rica is one of the examples in the study "The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity", presented today to the delegates of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Study leader Pavan Sukhdev estimates that current rates of natural decline might reduce global GDP by about 7 percent by 2050.
Joshua Bishop is IUCN's Senior Economic Adviser, and has contributed to the study. In an interview, he explains how economic logic can help to save species. "Understanding the value of nature in an economic sense is a powerful communications tool, and can help us make the case for biodiversity conservation," he said. "We can also use economic insight to create better systems to protect species and ecosystems." Run audio
Speaking at the conference, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN's Director General, called upon the business sector to engage in biodiversity conservation. "Companies increasingly see that this is good for their bottom line - there is no business to be done on a dead planet." More than fifty companies have already signed IUCN's Countdown 2010 declaration.