Conserving Critical Sites for Biodiversity Provides Disproportionate Benefits to People

PLoS ONEFrank W. Larsen

Protecting natural habitats in priority areas is essential to halt the loss of biodiversity. Yet whether these benefits for biodiversity also yield benefits for human well-being remains controversial. Here we assess the potential human well-being benefits of safeguarding a global network of sites identified as top priorities for the conservation of threatened species. Conserving these sites would yield benefits—in terms of a) climate change mitigation through avoidance of CO2 emissions from deforestation; b) freshwater services to downstream human populations; c) retention of option value; and d) benefits to maintenance of human cultural diversity—significantly exceeding those anticipated from randomly selected sites within the same countries and ecoregions. Results suggest that safeguarding sites important for biodiversity conservation provides substantial benefits to human well-being.

Citation

  • Larsen FW, Turner WR, Brooks TM (2012) Conserving Critical Sites for Biodiversity Provides Disproportionate Benefits to People. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36971.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036971