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!
Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut
Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences