In addition to my last two posts (here and here), here are a couple of additional information sources to help make the case for major investment to be made into global earth repair/ecosystem restoration work.
The United Nations Environment Programme recently published a report titled "Dead Planet, Living Planet – Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration for Sustainable Development: A Rapid Response Assessment" (15mb PDF). What makes this document so useful and important is that it presents compelling arguments for performing this work that speak to the concerns of business & economics just as much as it does of those concerned about the state of our global ecology and environment. Doing so will prove to be invaluable in helping to attract funding in amounts befitting the vital importance of this work.
Below, I’ve excerpted portions of the report’s summary that are of particular interest:
- Ecosystems, from forests and freshwater to coral reefs and soils, deliver essential services to humankind estimated to be worth over USD 72 trillion a year – comparable to World Gross National Income. Yet in 2010, nearly two-thirds of the globe’s ecosystems are considered degraded as a result of damage, mismanagement and a failure to invest and reinvest in their productivity, health and sustainability.
- Biodiversity and ecosystems deliver crucial services to humankind – from food security to keeping our waters clean, buffering against extreme weather, providing medicines to recreation and adding to the foundation of human culture. Together these services have been estimated to be worth over 21–72 trillion USD every year – comparable to the World Gross National Income of 58 trillion USD in 2008.
- Effective conservation is the cheapest and most optimal option for securing services, costing only from tens to a few hundred USD per hectare.
- Indeed, restoration costs range from hundreds to thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of USD for every hectare restored, or over 10 fold that of effectively managed protected areas. These numbers, however, are dwarfed compared to the long-term estimated costs of loosing these ecosystem services.
- Well planned, appropriate restoration, compared to loss of ecosystem services, may provide benefit/cost ratios of 3–75 in return of investments and an internal rate of return of 7–79%, depending on the ecosystem restored and its economic context, thus providing in many cases some of the most profitable public investments including generation of jobs directly and indirectly related to an improved environment and health. Ecological restoration can further act as an engine of economy and a source of green employment.
- A world wide survey of studies looking at restoration and conservation of ecosystem services shows us that conservation and restoration provides a highly profitable, low-cost investment for maintaining ecosystem services. Increases in biodiversity and ecosystem service measures after restoration are positively related. Restoration actions focused on enhancing biodiversity should support increased provision of ecosystem services, particularly in tropical terrestrial biomes. Conversely, these results
suggest that ecosystem restoration focused mainly on improving services should also have a primary aim at restoring biodiversity.
The report isn’t completely devoid of contentious points. In providing suggested guidelines for avoiding pitfalls in restoration projects, the native vs. non-native debate rears its ugly head. See suggestion #3 (Note: The report may be making the suggestion that carefully chosen, intended non-native species may be used):
A set of guidelines are recommended to avoid pitfalls in restoration projects. These pitfalls include, among others:
- Unrealistic goals or changes in restoration targets in the process;
- Improper and partial restoration which creates monocultures with little ecosystem service capacity compared to reference sites;
- Unintended transplant of non-native invasive pests or species;
- Lack of monitoring to ensure that restoration results in rising biodiversity and services in restored ecosystems;
- Lack of reduction in the pressures that lead to the loss of ecosystems in the first place;
- Lack of adequate integration of stakeholders and socio-economic issues.
The final portion of the report’s summary makes 11 excellent recommendations for ecosystem restoration work that deserve to be read. Take time to check out the link – it’s well worth it.