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The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity- TEEB
Date:5/29/2008

osing forest ecosystem services with a value equivalent to around 28 billion each year, and this value increases over the period to 2050 (it has to be noted that a large part of these benefits is currently not included in GDP). Losses of our natural capital stock are felt not only in the year of the loss, as the reduction in the service flow continues over time.

Taking these future losses into account, the net present value of services from forests ecosystems that we lose each year is estimated at between 1.35 trillion and 3.1 trillion, for discount rates of respectively 4% and 1%.

As indicated above, this is a conservative estimate: it is partial, excluding some ecosystem services, some negative feedback effects of these losses on GDP growth are not fully accounted for, and the values do not account for non-linearities and threshold effects in ecosystem functioning. However, these first results suggest that the socio-economic impacts of biodiversity loss can be substantial. More work will be needed in Phase II of the study to consolidate a large-scale assessment of the costs of losses of the main types of ecosystems worldwide and to compare them with the costs of policies to better protect biodiversity and ecosystems.

The Next Steps

The fundamental requirement is to develop an economic yardstick that is more effective than GDP for assessing the performance of an economy. National accounting systems need to be more inclusive and measure the significant human benefits that ecosystems and biodiversity provide. By no longer ignoring these benefits such systems would help policymakers adopt the right measures and to design appropriate financing mechanisms for conservation.

The good news is that some promising policies are already being tried out in some countries and they have the potential to be spread to other regions. Examples include payments for Ecosystem Services (Costa Rica), habitat banking (USA) and revenue shar
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Contact: Tilo Arnhold
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1635
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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