Climate change doubles the cost of conservation

Madagascar, one of the most biologically rich countries in the world and where the vast majority of native forests has been lost. (©Cristina Mittermeier/iLCP)

The cost of environmental conservation could double as a result of climate change, according to a trio of studies.

The work by Conservation International and the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) looked at California, South Africa and Madagascar. It found that preserving existing ecosystems such as forests, would be cheaper and more effective than attempting to replace those lost to climate change.

“This set of studies from around the world is a wake-up call,” said Rebecca Shaw, a climate scientist and associate vice president with the EDF.

“The truth is that we have been struggling to conserve the nature we depend on for clean air and clean water without climate change,” said Shaw who added that these costs are only likely to increase in the future.

“It is time to get much more creative about inspiring innovative and cost-effective private incentives for conservation to more efficiently sustain our planet’s life-support system for our benefit and the benefit of our children,” she said.

The research, published in Conservation Biology, is the first to assess the effect of climate change on the costs of conservation.

A study published in 2001 estimated that for global conservation spending to be effective, it would need to reach $25bn a year.


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