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The Value Of Biodiversity Essay

1351 words - 6 pages

The Fire-Brigade Period (The First 100 Years of Conservation) Involvement in conservation work entails the use of a wide variety of skills, some of which one most probably will not adequately be prepared. There are two arguments - that the role and importance of conservation are changing dramatically (rapid increase of problems, recognition that conservation is essential for our survival) and secondly that conservation must increasingly be 'drawn into the mainstream of social and economic activity'.Conservation, as we know it, is a product of the past 100 years - the 'fire-brigade period'. It has largely been a specialist activity hence giving it a somewhat elitist standing, being dominated ...view middle of the document...

Radical changes to our environment are occurring such as acidification, eutrophication of waterways, extreme flooding events, overall climatic changes and the destruction of the ozone layer. These problems mainly stem from modern economic activity. We depend for our survival upon biological processes - now called 'ecosystem services' - which are now provided by natural and semi-natural ecosystems such as wetlands to a significant extent.A good example is the importance of the ecosystem services is in agriculture. In the past 40 years production has been seen as a function of inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Increasingly we are seeing problems with pesticides - increased resistance and the destruction of the natural controls within the existent ecosystem. Agro-ecology, recognizing the reliance on ecological processes to maintain production and control pests and diseases has been emerging, in turn meaning a greater dependence on biological diversity.Valuing Biodiversity Biodiversity is increasingly recognized as a diminishing resource. Economic analysis can be utilized as economics concerns the efficient use of scarce resources. In the past these resources were not scarce, so they were neglected by economic activity - causing them to become severely degraded. An important step in sustaining these services is to define them as goods and services.The most obvious value of biodiversity is direct extractive uses (timber, plants & animals as food). There are also direct non-extractive uses (ecotourism, recreation). Indirect uses (the role of organisms in pest control, protection against erosion). Optional use (potential use in the future, such as plants for a certain chemical, or ecosystem services). There are also non-use values commonly divided between bequest value (benefit accruing to an individual from the knowledge that others might benefit from a resource in future) and passive use value (sympathy for environment and mere existence of a certain species).These categories are important because they force us to consider al of the benefits we may obtain from wildlife, and not simply those which are tradable. Quantifying ecosystems can give surprising results - such as the case of wetlands in Canada. A value of $50,000 per hectare was assigned to their functions in water purification and pollution sinks and $100,000 per hectare in regulating flood peaks. A clear economic advantage can be made for maintaining the area rather than developing it for agriculture.The Role of Economics in Conservation A monetary value should be assigned to conservation; otherwise we risk it being overlooked by decision-makers. Economic practices need to be changed to incorporate the concept of the value of biodiversity and other natural resources. Developing countries are encouraged to use a system of accounting by the UN which disregards their principal assets, thus the consequence being that many developing countries are suffering devastating...

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