Paradoxes in Biodiversity Conservation

David Pearce

Published: September 2005

Biodiversity is important for human wellbeing, but it is declining. Measures to conserve biodiversity are essential but may be a waste of effort if several paradoxes are not addressed. The highest levels of diversity are in nations least able to practise effective conservation. The flow of funds to international biodiversity conservation appears trivial when compared to the scale of biodiversity loss. International agreements may not actually protect or conserve more than what would have been conserved anyway. Protected Areas may be ‘paper parks’, protected in name but not in practice. The very act of protection may contain self-destructive features because local communities can easily suffer loss of income and assets, making them unwilling partners in the act of protection. In turn, this places the protected area at risk and may also divert unsustainable harvesting activities to non-protected but equally diverse ecosystems. In tackling these issues the real biodiversity challenge is redesigning conservation effort, making it truly additional and making it compatible with poverty reduction.

Download Paper in PDF format

More Papers From This Author in World Economics:

Does European Union Environmental Policy Pass a Cost–Benefit Test?
Author: David Pearce

Most European Union countries are committed to some form of regulatory impact assessment, and in some cases these assessments involve the formal use of cost–benefit analysis. The European Treaty of Union also calls for a comparison of costs and benefits for all European regulations. Despite this, only a limited number of regulations have been subject to cost–benefit analysis. Using a variety of sources, this paper investigates whether or not a selection of major environmental regulations would pass a cost–benefit test. The general answer is that, while some do, most do not. This finding has major implications for the efficiency of European environmental legislation, and reflects on the willingness of Member States to sign up to inefficient regulation.

Read Full Paper >

Valuing the Future

One of the most controversial areas of economics is the practice of discounting: attaching a lower weight to future costs and benefits than present costs and benefits. Discounting appears to offend notions of sustainable development and the interests of future generations. Recent advances in the theory of discounting hold out strong hope that the ‘tyranny of discounting’ can be avoided through the use of time varying discount rates (TVDRs). This paper reviews the recent rationales for TVDRs and applies the results to issues such as nuclear power and global warming control.

Read Full Paper >

Save the Planet: Sell Carbon
Author: David Pearce

This article examines the political economy of agreements on global greenhouse emissions reduction. The author explains the complex emissions trading mechanisms set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and considers the likely size and structure of a future market for emissions credits.

Read Full Paper >