OSLO Oct 11 Governments need to spend $80
billion a year to halt extinctions of endangered animals and
plants, many times current levels and only half the amount paid
to bankers in bonuses last year, a study showed.
The extra spending is vital to protect natural services such
as insect pollination of crops or water purification by
wetlands, the report in Friday's edition of Science said.
"These are investments in natural capital. They are not
bills. They are dwarfed by the benefits we get back from
nature," Stuart Butchart of BirdLife International in England,
one of the authors of the study, told Reuters.
The report, trying to put a price tag on U.N. goals for 2020
agreed by governments in 2010 for preserving everything from
insects to whales, estimated that it would cost $76.1 billion to
expand and manage protected areas for endangered species.
And it would cost an extra $3.41 billion to $4.76 billion a
year to achieve a goal of avoiding extinctions and improving the
conservation level of all known threatened species, ranging from
the giant panda or the tiger to lesser known frogs or plants.
Many scientists say the sum now spent on biodiversity
protection is about 10 times too little.
Butchart said the $80 billion total was half of $156 billion
estimated in one report as bonuses at major banks in 2011, or a
fraction of world defence spending of $1.7 trillion.
The study said the sum was equivalent to between 1 and 4
percent of the net value of "ecosystem services", ranging from
seed dispersal to waste decomposition by insects, that are lost
Those losses, caused by destruction of habitats, are
estimated to cost between $2 trillion and $6.6 trillion a year,
according to the study by scientists in Britain, United States,
Denmark, Australia, Germany and New Zealand.
"More prosaically, the total required is less than 20
percent of annual global consumer spending on soft drinks," the
study said, citing a report that estimated world soft drink
sales at $469 billion.
The study coincides with an Oct. 8-19 meeting of governments
in Hyderabad, India, trying to work out how to reach goals of
preserving the diversity of life from the pressures of a human
population above 7 billion.
"The shortfalls we have identified highlight a clear and
urgent need to scale up investment in biodiversity conservation
substantially", said lead author Donal McCarthy, of BirdLife
International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
U.N. reports say the world is facing the worst crisis of
extinctions since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years
ago. Pollution, climate change, land clearance of forests to
make way for farms, roads and towns are among threats.
And many species are becoming extinct before they have even
been described. Butchart said governments needed to shift
priorities towards nature, even though many were struggling with
sluggish growth or high unemployment.
"In economically challenging times it is even more important
to set priorities," he said. "This is not an altruistic action."
The U.N. goals for 2020 include expanding protected areas to
17 percent of the world's land surface - from 12.7 percent
estimated for 2010 - and to 10 percent of seas under national
control, from 4.0 percent.
The scientists started off by estimating the costs of
reducing threats to endangered birds, the best studied group of
animals, and extrapolated the results to other species.