PerspectiveConservation

Balancing economic and ecological goals

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Science  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 651-652
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf9697

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Summary

Human activities are increasingly degrading ecosystems, resulting in habitat loss and reduced biodiversity. Extinction rates, a widely used metric of biodiversity loss, are estimated to be around 1000 times as high as those historically experienced on Earth (1); even the most conservative estimate puts current extinction rates at 114 times as high as the background planetary norm (2). Simulations project that, under scenarios of increased economic growth and the accompanying land use change, critical habitat will further degrade and biodiversity will decline (3, 4). Are economic growth and ecosystem conservation incompatible objectives?