9.04.05 - Economics of biodiversity and protected areas



Ecosystem Accounting

The UN has recently adopted the System of Environmental Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) in its 52 session in March 2021. Details on EA is available here.

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Ram Pandit, Australia


Tafesse Estifanos, United States

Haripriya Gundimeda, India

About Unit

The economics of biodiversity and protected areas, which is an integral part of forestry science, is not sufficiently addressed in the existing IUFRO structure and programs. For example, protected areas, national forests or private forests are keys to conservation and their roles both ecological and economic in term of species conservation are not adequately explored. In the context of limited resources available for conservation, better understanding of the values of species, ecosystems, and the impacts of protected area policies on households are important for informed decision making.

This unit primarily focuses on environmental, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity and protected areas, including valuation of species and ecosystems, nature-based tourism or ecotourism, and impact evaluation of conservation interventions. It has a general focus on biodiversity on both public and private forest lands, but specific focus on protected areas and their surrounding landscapes. The main objectives of this unit are:

  1. to study economics of biodiversity and protected areas;
  2. to value threatened and endangered species to understand public preferences for their conservation; and
  3. to explore economic (welfare), social and environmental impacts and effectiveness of conservation policies and programs, including ecotourism/nature-based tourism.

State of Knowledge

Biodiversity loss is a major challenge society is facing and it is argued that we are facing a sixth mass extinction. Efforts to conserve biodiversity through protected area network is continuing but the overall loss of biodiversity is not declining. Recent works of IPBES and other conservation organizations have argued a need for transformative change. UK Treasury has also launched a Dasgupta Review on Economics of Biodiversity to assess the current state and to provide recommendations to conserve biodiversity while enhancing societal welfare. Economics of biodiversity and protected areas, and impact evaluation (social, environmental and economic) of conservation programs and projects is a continuing research field, but inadequate.

Existing knowledge or research on social, environmental and economic dimensions of biodiversity and protected area is inadequate in following aspects to bring a transformative change in biodiversity conservation:

  1. understanding economic and social values of threatened species;
  2. the economics of protected areas, including nature-based tourism;
  3. the local (household level) and regional impacts of conservation policies, programs and plans.