Forests loss carries huge price-tag

Vanishing forests may be costing the global economy more than the current banking crisis, according to a study commissioned by the European Union. The review -- The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) -- estimates the annual cost of forest loss at US$2 trillion to US$5 trillion, or about 7% of global GDP.  

Pavan Sukhdev, the Deutsche Bank economist who headed the study, told the BBC that the “natural capital” lost through forest destruction not only exceeds today’s financial-sector losses but “it’s also continuous; it’s been happening every year, year after year.” This cost is calculated by adding the value of the various essentially free services that forests perform, such as absorbing carbon dioxide and providing clean water.


Some conservationists see these kinds of calculations as a new way of persuading policymakers to fund nature protection rather than allowing the deterioration of ecosystems and the elimination of species. Without nature’s help, the thinking goes, the human economy must provide the missing services or do without them. Either way, there is a price to pay.


Discussed at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain, last week, the full review is to be completed by the middle of 2010. That is when governments are committed – under the Convention on Biological Diversity – to have begun slowing the rate of biodiversity loss.


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