Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tropical countries' growing wealth may aid conservation


Rising middle class wants conservation and is willing to pay for it

While inadequate funding has hampered international efforts to conserve biodiversity in tropical forests, a new Duke University-led study finds that people in a growing number of tropical countries may be willing to shoulder more of the costs on their own.

"In wealthier developing countries, there has been a significant increase in public demand for conservation, which has not yet been matched by an equivalent increase in protective actions by the governments of those countries," said Jeffrey R. Vincent, a Duke environmental economist who led the study, which appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nearly half of the world's threatened endemic tropical mammal, bird and plant species are found in 27 developing counties that the World Bank now classifies as having reached upper middle income (UMI) status.

UMI countries, which include Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Gabon, Malaysia, Peru and Thailand, also contain nearly 80 percent of the world's primary tropical forests, which play a major role in carbon storage.

"Our research suggests that as incomes rise in these countries, it creates a new opportunity for domestic funding to play a larger role in supporting efforts to protect forests and forest species from logging, poaching and other threats," Vincent said. "This could make a big difference in protecting tropical biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation."

To measure how these countries' rising household incomes have affected public demand for biodiversity conservation and their governments' expenditures on it, Vincent and a team of international scientists analyzed economic indicators from high income, upper- and lower-middle-income, and low-income tropical countries.

Among other indicators, they tracked per capita donations to nongovernmental conservation groups; percentage of land set aside in protected areas; percentage of conservation projects receiving international funding; and results from public opinion surveys about the priority governments should place on environmental protection in relation to potentially opposing concerns such as job creation.

"We found strong evidence that as countries reach upper-middle-income status, support for conservation and willingness to pay for it grows across every indicator we examined, while protective government policies and expenditures lag behind," Vincent said.

To test these findings, the researchers conducted a case study on forest conservation in the remote Belum-Temengor forest of Malaysia's northernmost state, Perak.

As early as 1968, the Malaysian federal government recommended establishing a wildlife reserve in Belum-Temengor to protect its populations of Asian elephants, Malaysian tigers, Sumatran rhinoceroses and other large mammals against poaching and logging. But the Perak state government, which has jurisdiction over the forest, has protected only a third of it. The rest of the forest remains open to logging and, under state law, even the area currently protected could be re-opened for logging, a major revenue source in Perak.

To gauge public demand for expanded protection, Vincent and his team surveyed households in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, and the neighboring state of Selangar, and asked how much they would be willing to pay to create a new reserve that would protect all of Belum-Temengor against logging and poaching. The survey defined the benefits of the reserve as reduced extinctions and reduced local flooding, neither of which would directly benefit people living outside Perak. It also detailed the costs associated with creating the reserve, including management costs and the loss of logging jobs.

"Despite receiving no direct benefits, people were willing to pay $6 per month to provide full protection to Belum-Temengor," Vincent said. That works out, cumulatively, to about $437 a year per hectare of land -- a much larger sum than the estimated costs of protecting Belum-Temengor."

"The challenge now," Vincent said, "is translating this growing support into increased government action. One possible solution might be to retool how international funding is allocated. Our findings provide a strong economic rationale for coupling international payments for carbon storage made to UMI tropical countries with biodiversity payments funded by those countries themselves."

Vincent is the Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Sanford School of Public Policy.

He conducted the new study with researchers from the University of California (UC) San Diego, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley, the University of South Australia, the Forest Research Institute Malaysia, and PE Research. Primary funding came from the Global Environmental Facility through the UN Development Programme, with additional support from Malaysia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Forest Research Institute Malaysia.


CITATION: "Tropical countries may be willing to pay more to protect their forests," Jeffrey R. Vincent, Richard T. Carson, J.R. DeShazo, Kurt A. Schwabe, Ismariah Ahmad, Siew Kook Chong, Yii Tan Chang, Matthew D. Potts; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition, June 30-July 4, 2014. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1312246111.

Tim Lucas | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Environment Malaysia Malaysian countries forests protective species tropical

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Don't forget plankton in climate change models, says study
27.11.2015 | University of Exeter

nachricht Using sphere packing models to explain the structure of forests
26.11.2015 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Siemens to supply 126 megawatts to onshore wind power plants in Scotland

27.11.2015 | Press release

Two decades of training students and experts in tracking infectious disease

27.11.2015 | Life Sciences

Coming to a monitor near you: A defect-free, molecule-thick film

27.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>