The conservation business


H. Nicholls

Type of Document:
Scholarly Article


Public Library of Science (PLoS)

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Not Available


The language of conservation is changing: protecting biodiversity is no longer just about ethics and aesthetics; the latest buzzwords are commodities and consumers. Traditionally, conservation initiatives have talked up the benefits they will bring to the global community-saving species, habitats, ecosystems, and ultimately the planet. But conservation also has its costs, and these are usually borne by local people prevented from exploiting the resources around them in other ways. It is unfair to expect a localised minority to pick up costs that ultimately benefit a dispersed majority, argue conservation biologists. There has to be more money made available by concerned individuals, non-governmental organisations, national governments, and international bodies, and there need to be better ways to spend this money if conservation is to be effective, they say. Biodiversity is a commodity that can be bought and sold. We are consumers and must pay. (Excerpt from article)

However, there is debate over how to most effectively approach paying for biodiversity conservation. This article presents the arguments in favor of direct payments to local peoples to prevent environmental degredation as a more cost-effective alternative to indirect “conservation by distraction” approaches, such as investing in ecotourism. Critiques of this perspective and needs for further research are also presented.

Additional Bibliographic Information

PLoS Biology 2(9): e310

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