Preliminary Report for the Conference
"Defying Nature's End: A Practical Agenda for Saving Life on the Planet"

provided by California Institute of Technology


n October 1999, Dr. Gordon Moore (Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation) and Dr. Edward Wilson (Pellegrino University Research Professor at Harvard University) sent out invitations to key experts from different disciplines to meet with staff and board members of Conservation International. Entitled "Defying Nature's End: A Practical Agenda for Saving Life on the Planet," the event took place from August 22-26, 2000 at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. The conference was hosted by the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) of Conservation International (CI), in collaboration with The World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The purpose of the conference was to assemble a diverse group of participants to discuss the present status of biodiversity and devise a practical blueprint for addressing the most immediate conservation needs. In other words, an agenda to defy Nature's end.

The mission of the six groups and their combined 30 scientists was to produce a series of short background papers. The assignment given each group was simple:

"Be bold, be creative, and imagine that whatever resources needed are available."

As Dr. Moore and Dr. Wilson reflected in their invitation letter:

"Never have we been in such a position to create real change. The global conservation effort can be raised to the level the problem requires. We firmly believe that together we can make substantial and significant headway in our battle to save the world's precious and endangered biodiversity."

CABS selected six themes, which are broad enough, and obvious enough, that they are hardly likely to create controversy. Two of the themes are central to Conservation International's current efforts. The first is the protection of major tropical forest wilderness areas of the planet (the Amazon, the Congo and Papua, New Guinea and associated areas), which contain much of the variety of life on Earth -- biodiversity.

The second involves the hotspots, the extraordinary places where so many unique species are concentrated into such small areas and where human actions are now causing so many of them to be threatened with extinction.

Two more themes encompass terrestrial and freshwater environments and marine environments. A fifth team (chaired by Dr. Andrew Dobson) was empowered to look at the social driving forces behind environmental change. The final was charged with examining the connections to ecosystem services: the services that biodiversity provides without which humanity could not survive.

Discussions began in CABS in mid-May and looked for common themes among the individual reports. These discussions also searched for possible tensions -- conflicting ideas where we might need to evaluate whether we should do X or whether we should do Y. The answer was always that we must do both X and Y, but we wanted to explore how one would trade off priorities.

The first section immediately follows this preface. It is the synthesis of all these discussions -- a compact agenda that suggests what must be done if we are to leave to future generations a planet with its current breathtaking beauty and diversity.

The second section is a summary of the work done by the conference itself. The six original teams split into nine teams after initial discussions. In some cases, these teams are the same as before, but in others their existence recognizes new ideas that initially were not given sufficient independence.

Even before these syntheses comes their most emphatic conclusion: the required task is possible. Indeed, on the scale of what humanity can accomplish and in terms of the available financial and other resources, it is not even that difficult.

We can defy Nature's End.

-- Stuart L. Pimm

Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) Columbia University, New York.


Section I: Summary of discussions prior to the conference


he individual agendas that followed from pre-conference discussions contained nearly 50 separate suggestions for actions to protect global biodiversity. They are the products of the experiences of, and the discussions by, thirty experts. All have spent their lives watching biodiversity diminish and seeking ways to prevent that process.

No two pages can capture all that accumulated wisdom or the individual agendas. Nonetheless, common themes emerge.


1. Protect more of the planet


Every group recommends this action. It begs several questions. The most important: Is this an impossible task? No, it is not.

On land, two kinds of areas are involved. The major wilderness areas of tropical forest in the Amazon, Congo and Southeast Asia constitute several million square kilometers of the planet. In protecting them, we would simultaneously protect many of the most important freshwater ecosystems.

The hotspots are some 25 areas where large numbers of very vulnerable species are concentrated into a few million square kilometers.

The oceans may seem to be a vast, untouched wilderness. In fact, life is concentrated in the 10% of the oceans -- an Africa-sized area of 30 million square kilometers on the continental shelves. Nearly 99% of the world's fisheries are in this 10% and it suffers the brunt of human impact. (We also hunt the open ocean's top predators sharks and billfish with few, if any, restraints.)

We protect about 6% of the land surface. What we propose would raise this to about 10% -- an increase that seems modest in terms of both the area proposed and how much more area we need. In fact, the "6%" is misleading it is mostly the world's hottest and driest places and the coldest places, not its biologically rich tropical forests. At the start of the last century, societies protected scenically spectacular places as national parks. At the start of this century, we must protect the biologically spectacular. A carefully-selected 20% of the continental shelves also needs protection.

What would it cost? For the wilderness areas, "buying them" -- in practice a broad range of options are available beyond simple purchase would cost on the order of a few billion dollars. The cost of protecting these hotspots would be broadly similar the land is more expensive, but there is less of it to protect. For the oceans, many countries now understand that allowing access to marine resources has led to widespread loss of those resources. Some nations already understand the need to set aside marine areas in much the same way that they have protected terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.


2. Build local capacity


How can we ensure the continued protection of protected areas? The simple solution -- protect more of the planet unfolds into a myriad particular solutions to interrelated and complex regional problems. In some cases, a solution in one place may diametrically opposite to what is required elsewhere. (Some areas require that people remain on the land, living traditional life-styles; in others, it is those lifestyles that diminish biological diversity.) In short, the problems are complex and defy a one-size-fits-all solution.

Only in a few special cases can land be bought outright and, even then, its continued protection may not be simple. Protection will not continue unless it is acceptable locally, regionally, and nationally. All conservation is local.

All conservation must be driven by what a country's peoples want, not by what developed nations impose from outside.

Finally, while there is consensus that we know where to act at an international scale, we often lack the detailed scientific knowledge to make the best possible decisions.

All these problems can be resolved by building local capacity. Every region needs more science to plan and manage. There needs to be better understanding of the social, economic and political processes that harm biodiversity. And there needs to be far more highly-trained people to tackle the local problems and their solution and to seek the necessary resources from the global community. Given that Gabon, for instance, has but four PhD biologists, these needs are particularly urgent.

How much would it cost to build centers to address the loss of biodiversity? There are a few models. INPA in Manaus, Brazil and La Selva, Costa Rica are examples, though they have different missions. To establish such field-based teams with the missions of doing the necessary science and training a new generation would require the annual financial investment that these examples enjoy. We suggest that this is approximately $1 million per location per year, or roughly $25 million per year for all the hotspots and wilderness areas. To be effective, these projects would have to have endowments, so the capital costs would need to be on the order of $0.5 billion


3. Address long-term needs


Unless we act now, there will be no long-term for many of the biologically rich areas of the planet. Thus, this agenda is front-loaded. Nonetheless, two particular solutions emerge as a consensus for pressing long-term actions.

First, we should reduce perverse subsidies. They encourage harmful ecological practices, such as fishing and logging, at a cost that exceeds their benefits. For instance, the world's fish catch sells for about half the cost of obtaining it. In a world without frontiers, there might at best be debatable justifications for stimulating activities that push human activities into its unlimited oceans and vast forests. But in a world where most major fisheries have collapsed and where rainforests could be gone within a generation, perverse subsidies are bad for economy and environment alike.

Second, countries need to recognize and capture the economic value of the services their ecosystems provide. The values of watersheds for urban areas and the value of tropical forests as sinks for our burning of fossil fuels are huge but, nonetheless, unappreciated.


Section II: Summary of discussions during the conference


he conference participants presented the results of their discussions during its first two days. The agenda, up to that time, had been strongly influenced by Conservation International's own thinking. Two of the six teams were chaired by their staff and the corresponding projects constitute CI's core mission protection wilderness areas and hotspots. How well would these priorities fare when subject to external review and criticism? It was possible that very different priorities might emerge and that CI's priorities might be sidelined. This was not the outcome, however. Despite the number of teams increasing from an original six to a final nine, the fate of wilderness areas and hotspots is common to all.

As might be expected during a week of intense discussion, the original ideas were amended, discarded, and expanded. The resulting post-agenda document stretches to 50 pages, but here are the key ideas of each of the nine teams. There was substantial overlap in many of the ideas presented.


Team 1: Increased Knowledge of Terrestrial Organisms
(chaired by Peter Raven)


he distributions of species are mapped in a very coarse-grained way that scarcely supports conservation activities sufficiently, especially considering the limited possibilities for conserving individual protected areas in many habitats.

So, how can we efficiently manage Earth's biological diversity when what we know is several orders of magnitude from the nearest data point, and those points are orders of magnitude too few? Recent developments in computer technology, data storage and remote sensing are expanding our ability to respond to this challenge rapidly and efficiently, provided that we synthesize the component parts in ways that take advantage of recent progress in all of these areas. Thus, we have the ability to shrink these huge gaps rapidly with existing technology and, in many cases, with information already in hand.


The Plan


The response we propose has several elements:

  1. An international effort to complete the global catalog of species.
  2. The development of computerized databases for all the specimens in museums, conducted on a national basis, so that the information would be available at the appropriate level for all purposes, including conservation decision planning and decision-making.
  3. The application of innovative GIS technology to help map the data concerning species ranges in ways most useful for the solution of conservation problems and the synthesis of patterns generally.
  4. Accelerated programs of exploration in the field and analysis in museums, leading to the description and cataloging of information about species at rates far greater than at present.
  5. Organizing and incorporating an ortho-rectified global Landsat imagery into an adaptable form most useful for the interpretation of data about the status d distribution of organisms and biological communities, including nd-use trends.


Team 2: The Freshwater Matrix
(chaired by Melanie Stiassny)

  lobally, the true degree of aquatic impoverishment is largely unknown. Yet, there is little doubt that the losses are great. The health and vitality of the earth's freshwater ecosystems and the rich concentration of diversity they contain are being undermined. There is an imperative to front-load financial and professional resources to systematically integrate threatened aquatic freshwater systems into conservation action.


The Plan



  1. Aquatic Freshwater Hotspots Assessment
      Undertake a parallel "Aquatic Freshwater Hotspots" exercise similar in scope and methodology to the terrestrial hotspots strategy.
  2.   Initiate a new program to remedy the lack of knowledge of magnitude, distribution and function of aquatic biodiversity in targeted areas. This should include:Assess aquatic biodiversity within the designated Terrestrial Hotspots/ Major Wilderness Areas.
    • Map and understand basic hydrology of region.
    • Establish long-term, site-specific monitoring of water quality and biodiversity integrity.
      As part of monitoring program focus, too, on invasive species surveys, and incorporate prevention education.
  3.   Use this accumulated information to redesign the protected areas and linkages (e.g., to cover more watershed, or to extend the boundaries to include key upstream components of the watershed to maintain long-term integrity of the park/area). (See teams 4 and 5).
      As appropriate, investigate restoration opportunities (including compilation of case studies illustrating the high cost of restoration relative to prevention). (See team 9).
      Analyze real costs and benefits of water projects in aquatic hotspot areas, with an eye to reducing water demand (i.e., satisfying water service demands through development of innovative and efficient designs and technologies), improving water quality and delaying the need to invest in large dams and water diversion schemes.
      Include related aspects of enforcing pollution prevention regulations (and eliminating perverse incentives). (See team 9).
    Implement Actions to Mitigate Threats
  4.   (See team 7).
      Investigate private sector-public sector partnerships to promote landscape-scale watershed protection and restoration, and high-efficiency water uses and clean water discharges (e.g., through zero emission strategies). (See team 8).
    Investigate and address human health linkages
  5.   Improve understanding of links between land-use management and estuaries and coastal wetlands, as well as understanding of actions and solutions necessary for ensuring protection of marine hotspots. (See team 3).
    Land-Sea Interface, Coastal Wetlands and Riparian Corridors
  6.   Within hotspot countries and other focal areas, there is a tremendous opportunity in many countries to link freshwater ecosystem integrity and local livelihoods and health in rural areas -- with major users downstream. This is possible for several reasons:
    Protect Watershed Areas -- Priority Development of Water-based Protected Areas
  7.   In many hotspot/wilderness areas, expertise in aquatic sciences is poor or nonexistent.
      Training in aquatic biodiversity science must be an integral part of the Biodiversity Facilitation Centers' educational component (Team 6) and Capacity-building activities in Hotspots ( Team 5) and Wilderness Areas (Team 4).
    Front-loaded program of training in aquatic biodiversity science
  8.   There are many international initiatives addressing water quality and usage issues (e.g., Global Water Assessment Program of UNESCO, International Hydrological Program of UNESCO, Ramsar Convention, Global Water Partnership, World Water Council, International Rivers Network). There is tremendous scope for information exchange and collaboration with these groups.Build linkages with international water conservation initiatives


Team 3: Marine Ecosystems
(chaired by Callum Roberts)


everal problems affect marine ecosystems.

Problem 1 -- Bad fishing practices: Fishing is the most significant agent of change in the sea. Most ecosystems have been fished to the limits of sustainability or beyond and some species hover close to extinction. Worse, fishing has adverse effects on whole ecosystems. By-catches destroy unwanted species, and fishing gear damages bottom-living communities, resulting in ecological deserts. There is an urgent need to reduce the impacts of fishing, restore fisheries, and protect habitats. We need innovative but practical approaches to achieving these ends.

Problem 2 -- Habitat destruction: Some marine ecosystems are especially vulnerable because their very existence depends on the presence of the dominant plants or animals. Examples are coral reefs, mangroves, and salt marshes in estuaries. Habitat destruction is caused by development of mariculture ponds, mining, mobile fishing gear, dynamite and cyanide fishing, and the disruption of freshwater flow to estuaries.

Problem 3 -- Introductions of alien invasive species: Alien species can radically alter indigenous communities. Some introduced species are innocuous in their effects or even desirable in terms of human use, but others are invasive, spread rapidly, compete with or consume local species, and transform the functioning of ecological communities. Apart from the ecological devastation, alien invasives incur huge financial losses. The rate of marine invasions is accelerating.

Problem 4 -- Pollution: Pollution is a universal problem, but because (1) its effects are often local, (2) it is caused by a huge range of activities and products, and (3) it is widely recognized and is addressed by international agreements and national responsibilities, it is not one of the focal points for which we propose solutions.

Problem 5 -- Global climate change: Climate and atmospheric changes are negatively affecting marine biodiversity and productivity. Any ocean conservation strategy must support efforts to stabilize climate and atmospheric changes.


The Plan



  1. Establish marine reserves
      Goal: Establish fully-protected marine reserves encompassing at least 20% of all marine habitats worldwide.
  2.  End subsidies to fishing
    Goal: End harmful subsidies in fisheries, and develop subsidies that benefit conservation
      Rationale: Overcapitalization, i.e., the existence of too many boats for the available fish, drives overfishing and is often facilitated by government subsidies. Such subsidies mean that the total costs of an activity such as fishing exceed the potential gains, and when they result in adverse environmental effects such as overfishing, they are termed "perverse." Annual revenues from fishing total about $70 to $80 billion, while subsidies are estimated at around $20 billion, so they are enormous relative to revenues. Largely because of subsidies, fisheries have roughly twice the fishing capacity needed to catch the available fish. Eliminating perverse subsidies, as New Zealand has done, would reduce fishing capacity and discourage the establishment of unsustainable aquaculture. Positive subsidies could be used to actively buy out and reduce fishing capacity, develop more selective fishing gear, and encourage less harmful forms of aquaculture.
  3. End subsidies to fishing
      Goal: Greatly reduce rates of introduction of invasive marine species
      Rationale: Invading species represent a growing threat to marine biodiversity and urgent action is needed to reduce rates of invasion. Without resolute action to tackle invading species, marine communities and ecosystems will suffer similar impacts to their terrestrial counterparts -- loss of species and altered ecosystem functioning.
  4. Prevent alien invasive species
    Goal: Eliminate environmentally damaging aquaculture and encourage more benign alternatives
      Rationale: Aquaculture offers the promise of a sustainable supply of seafood products. Unfortunately, the development of aquaculture in response to the high fragile coastal-marine habitats. Immediate action is required to prevent and mitigate the impact of current practices.
  5. Reduce harm done by marine aquaculture
      Goal: Develop criteria to identify priority areas for conservation, and to gather the necessary information to apply these.
      Rationale: The criteria on which marine areas should be prioritized for conservation are different from those on land. Biogeography, habitat diversity, endemism and the presence of abundant or keystone species are among these criteria. Underpinning almost all of these is the need for inventories of species and their abundance. A lack of this information hampers efforts to prioritize areas for conservation.
    Acquire more knowledge about marine biodiversity


Team 4: Tropical Forest Wilderness Areas
(chaired by Anthony Rylands and Russell Mittermeier)


he three major wilderness areas of the Congo, the Amazon, and New Guinea and associated forests in insular Southeast Asia not only contain a very large fraction of the world's species, but they are among the very places where natural processes unfold on something like their natural scale. Their protection has to be a major priority. These areas suffer from a variety of threats that include logging, mining, the extraction of oil and gas, and the conversion to monoculture agriculture, such as soybeans.

They suffer these major threats

  • Resource pirates
  • Deforestation
  • Selective logging
  • Subsistence hunting
  • Commercial hunting, the bush-meat trade
  • Mismanagement of natural economic resources, for example, fisheries
  • Advance of agriculture
  • Perverse subsidies
  • Mismanagement of watersheds
  • Major infrastructure and development projects, for example hydroelectric dams, mining operations, highway construction
  • Trade in ornamental fish and other forest products and animal artifacts


The Plan

  1. Maintain a large portion of what currently exists through different types of protection systems
  2. Effectively manage existing protected areas (7-8% of the wilderness areas in parks and reserves and approximately 20% in indigenous areas and reserves).
  3. Create new protected areas in the biologically richest regions, recognizing different management categories.
  4. Monitor and control or remove the major threats to these wilderness areas.


Team 5: Hotspots
(chaired by Gustavo Fonseca and Thomas Brooks)

  wenty-five distinct ecoregions are characterized by both extraordinary endemism (>0.5% of the global flora as endemics) and extraordinary threat (<30% of original habitat remaining). These are the biodiversity "hotspots". The team assessed the costs of planning and implementing strategies which would effectively conserve the biodiversity of these hotspots in perpetuity. These strategies involved five components: research and monitoring; conservation of remaining habitat; sustainable use of the matrix; capacity building and education; and public awareness.


The Plan

  1.  Information, research and monitoring
    See Teams 1 and 6
  2. Area protection
    An estimate of a few billion dollars would ensure conservation on all 11% of remaining habitat in the hotspots (contributing towards protection of ~90% of all species and incorporation of large-scale processes). All of these costs are based on the James et al. (1999) databases. The cost would be still cheaper with the removal of perverse incentives. Note that all costs per unit area here would average an order of magnitude lower in sparsely populated wilderness areas. The typically high population densities, small size of habitat patches available for conservation and high opportunity costs associated with protection mean that effective conservation of bio-diversity in the hotspots, while essential, is also relatively expensive.
  3. Capacity building for conservation
    A key feature should be the creation of centers for biodiversity (see team 6)
  4. Global publicity
    (See team 8)


Team 6: Local Biodiversity Facilitation Centers
(chaired by Roger Kitching)

  he establishment in each focus area of a network of on-site conservation implementation facilities demands that there be a Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) in each hotspot, wilderness or other targeted area. For each area, this will be the focus for the full range of activities dedicated to the conservation of the regional biodiversity: they will be the war rooms and nerve centers for the fulfillment of the actual conservation effort. They will be multi-disciplinary, problem-solving, goal-oriented and outcome-focused. Across the sum of hotspots and other target areas, they will form the exoskeleton of the global biodiversity conservation effort in which we are engaged. They must be effective, hungry, focused and efficient and, most of all, they must engage and maintain local ownership of the conservation mission.


The Plan

  Each CBC will act either directly or through networking as:


A centre for Strategic Planning and Review



  • To develop an initial plan within local constraints but against global objectives
  • To review strategic plans against implementation activities
  • To act as a repository of local conservation history and experience
  • With an ongoing role of self-audit of all the Centre's programs


A Regional Conservation Training Centre



  • Dedicated to ensuring that the technical capacity exists for the conservation effort
  • Engaged in conventional tertiary training activities
  • Liaising and making inputs to and through the local primary and secondary school systems
  • Performing extension activities by creating local and regional networks fulfilling an outreach function generating material for all forms of media, commenting as appropriate on local and global conservation issues, being a first point-of-contact for governments and other local identities
  • Producing curriculum materials for all levels of users
  • Set about developing, through training and the provision of experience, a new generation of conservation professionals at all levels


Team 7: Understanding, monitoring and managing the linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health
(chaired by Robert Costanza)


ny attempt to preserve biodiversity by simply purchasing or otherwise obtaining rights to ecosystems will not be sustainable unless mechanisms are put in place to create incentives for long-term commitment to conservation. A major factor in doing this is developing understanding of and commitment to preserving linkages between biodiversity, ecosystems, their services, and people.

New infectious diseases are emerging into human populations at an unprecedented rate. Scarcity of safe drinking water already affects hundreds of millions of people and is projected to affect 2-3 billion people over the next 25 years. Degraded ecological systems are leading to increased vulnerability to extreme weather and biological events as evidenced by the flooding in China in '98-'99 and the massive mud slides in Honduras during hurricane Mitch in 1998. Per capita food production is dropping. Global climate change is expected to have major impacts on human health through changes in food production, access to fresh water, exposure to vector-borne disease, sea level rise and coastal flooding, and extreme weather events.

We need to take immediate action to better understand the ecosystem service and human health consequences of ecosystem disturbance and degradation. This understanding should be used to educate policy makers globally that protecting ecological systems is critical to protecting the health and well being of their own populations. It should also be used to design participatory, community-level efforts focused on achieving conservation by addressing local ecosystem services and health concerns.


The Plan
Immediate Actions

  1.   Understanding linkages
    Currently, building effective bio-diversity-based conservation programs that preserve ecosystem functions requires strong, widespread research. The present knowledge base is based on too few studies that are too short term and limited in scale and type of ecosystem examined.
    Biodiversity and human health. Diet, disease, and human welfare are intimately linked, directly or indirectly, with the distribution and abundance of species.
    Biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services. Ecosystem functions concern the cycling of nutrients and the flow of energy such as decomposition and production.
      Ecosystem services involve ecosystem functions that affect human welfare such as greenhouse gas regulation, soil retention, the production and maintenance of fertile soil and clean water. The number, type, and abundance of species affect both the magnitudes and rates of ecosystem processes and functioning.
    Biodiversity and ecosystem health. Ecosystem health concerns an eco-system's ability to resist or recover from environmental stress such as eutrophication, acidification, or other perturbations.
    Cost: $2 million/yr over 5 years = $10 million/project x 20 projects = $200 million.


Longer Term Targets

  1. Early warning system for ecological threats to human health
      Parasites and infectious diseases have a major impact on human health, particularly in the tropics. While the world's attention is focused on the current epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis, it is important to realize that malaria, measles, and the trypansomes have a major impact on human mortality and the parasitic helminths have a major effect on morbidity, growth and intellectual development.
      The life cycles of many of all these pathogens are sensitive to local meteorological and ecological conditions. This implies that it should be possible to develop a variety of methods for predicting disease outbreaks.
  2. Ecosystem health manual
      There is considerable experience on a case by case basis for the diagnosis, prognosis and rehabilitation of ecosystems under stress. Within these cases there are patterns both as to the causal factors, the etiology of pathology, and outcomes of interventions.
  3. Global linked biodiversity/ecosystem services/human health inventory.
      Ultimately, in order to understand the linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health, we need a solid empirical database.
  4. Indicators of welfare combining traditional measures, ecosystem services and human health
      Measures of program success, regardless of how rudimentary, are needed for adaptive management of ecosystems and biodiversity. While measures of ecosystem health and biodiversity are direct measures, primary endpoints of conservation are sustaining human health and welfare. Human health indicators must be established to monitor program success and guide the establishment of linkages between health and ecosystems.


Team 8: Global Awareness through media and publicity
(chaired by Ivan Hattingh)


o heighten awareness about the threats and implications posed by biodiver- sity destruction, and provide avenues to motivate actions to value and protect biodiversity. There are several guiding principles:

  • Identify priority locations for immediate impact, based on scientific priority, d impact of communications to advance conservation
  • Integrate communications into the conservation strategies from earliest planning stages
  • Create global themes which will reinforce local and tailored communications strategies
  • Communications about biodiversity conservation should focus on both threats and solutions


The Plan

  1.  Advocacy
      Reaching highly targeted and influential audiences, such as leaders in government, business, culture and communities, as well as the media.
  2. Communications
    Reaching mass audiences, through the media, advertising, Internet and through intermediaries such as NGO's and other credible individuals and organizations.
  3. Young Audiences
      Education takes place in schools. Effective educational materials are produced by working with local educators.


Team 9: Economic incentives and disincentives
(chaired by Bradley Raffle)

  t present, there are few effective economic incentives for private or public owners of biologically rich lands to conserve the biodiversity upon them. Too often, government policies actively encourage utilization of such lands in ways that destroy biodiversity.


The Plan

  1. Conservation concessions
      Expand and promote conservation concessions.
  2.   Target 25 multinational corporations whose operations adversely impact the Earth's most critical regions of biodiversity in significant ways. These corporations would be asked to consider providing funding for conservation efforts. (A current example is Starbucks.)
    Target corporate outreach
  3. Linkage of carbon sequestration and biodiversity
      The ability to get credit for carbon sequestration not only provides an extremely cheap mechanism to clear up global emissions but one that is able to generate the budget required to protect tropical forest wilderness areas.
  4. Target policies that promote harmful road projects
  5. A focused assault on perverse commercial subsidies
      As a first step, there should be a detailed analysis of those subsidies that have the most detrimental impact on the bio-diversity hotspots. A targeted public awareness campaign should force a debate on the desirability of the major fisheries. A similar effort might be instigated towards the oversupply of timber sawing and wood chip processing mills in many of the world's tropical forests.