How 14 Billion Dollars Protected Earth's Species

Billions of dollars of financial investment in global conservation has significantly reduced biodiversity loss, according to a new research led by Oxford University.

For twenty-five years, we have known that we need to spend more on nature conservation, or face a modern mass extinction as serious as that of the dinosaurs. But governments and donors have been unwilling to come up with the necessary budgets, often because there was little hard evidence that the money spent on conservation does any good.

However, a new study now shows that thanks to the $14.4 billion spent on global conservation between the 1992 Earth Summit and 2003, biodiversity loss today has been significantly reduced. Without the big increases in funding driven by the Earth Summit, we would already have lost about a third more biodiversity than we actually did. More money is still needed, but this finding should now encourage decision makers to re-engage with the Earth Summit’s positive vision, and adequately bankroll the protection of earth’s biodiversity today.

The study, led by Dr Anthony Waldron during his time at the Edward Grey Institute in the Department of Zoology at Oxford, can also be used to estimate the budgets needed and importantly, how they will change as countries develop.

‘A highly accurate predictive model of biodiversity decline shows, specifically, how different levels of economic development and agricultural expansion require different levels of conservation spending, to counterbalance any negative effects. Such smart allocation of scarce financial resources would support true sustainable development, as called for by the UN,’ said Dr Anthony Waldron.

The study is the fruit of ten years' work by an international team, building and analysing a huge database of conservation funding and biodiversity declines, plus a complex algorithm that divides up responsibility for global species declines among individual countries.

For the full paper: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature24295.html