Economic Reasons for Conserving Wild Nature

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Science  09 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5583, pp. 950-953
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073947

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On the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, it is timely to assess progress over the 10 years since its predecessor in Rio de Janeiro. Loss and degradation of remaining natural habitats has continued largely unabated. However, evidence has been accumulating that such systems generate marked economic benefits, which the available data suggest exceed those obtained from continued habitat conversion. We estimate that the overall benefit:cost ratio of an effective global program for the conservation of remaining wild nature is at least 100:1.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: a.balmford{at}

  • Address after Sept. 2002: Gund Institute of Ecological Economics, The University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.

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