Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Escalating cost of forest conservation

Date:
April 16, 2013
Source:
National University of Singapore
Summary:
In the face of unprecedented deforestation and biodiversity loss, policy makers are increasingly using financial incentives to encourage conservation.

In the face of unprecedented deforestation and biodiversity loss, policy makers are increasingly using financial incentives to encourage conservation.

However, a research team led by the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that in the long run, conservation incentives may struggle to compete with future agricultural yields. 

Their findings were first published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 15 April 2013.

Financial incentives for conservation

Incentives are being levereged in dozens of tropical developing countries to conserve forests, to protect biodiversity and reduce carbon emissions from deforestation. This incentive-based approach is comparatively inexpensive, as low agricultural yields and widespread poverty often mean that relatively small incentives can motivate many landholders to protect their land for conservation.

As a result, this approach has become a leading climate change mitigation strategy adopted by the United Nations as policies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

Costs of conservation in the long run

In a bid to assess the future viability of these types of conservation programmes, the team, comprising researchers from NUS, ETH Zurich and University of Cambridge, developed a framework and model that looked at the strategy’s effectiveness in the context of intensified farming practices.

The researchers modeled conservation payments necessary to protect forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has some of the largest remaining forests in the world. They found that a new agricultural intensification and conservation programme could double or triple cassava and maize yields by introducing disease-resistant plant varieties, increasing fertilizer use and improving farming practices.  

Increased farm yields will bring dramatic benefits to DRC farmers, and could increase land area spared for conservation. Similar agricultural intensification policies are being promoted across the tropics.

However, the researchers highlight how those higher yields and incomes will also increase financial incentives for farmers to clear more forest for agriculture. As a result, financial incentives to encourage farmers to protect forests and not expand agriculture would need to escalate as well. They expect farmers who were once willing to protect forests for a comparative pittance could, in a matter of years, demand more for their conservation actions. Small-scale farmers might also be displaced by larger commercial ventures as farming becomes more lucrative, and as profits increase with growing global demand for agricultural products.

After taking these factors into account, the researchers found that while the current costs of forest conservation in many countries are very low, future changes in agricultural practices could radically increase the cost of conservation.

Escalating cost is top concern 

The NUS-led study illustrated that these contemporary policies tend to focus on short-term conservation and on improving the livelihoods of poor communities around forested areas. However, they risk overlooking impacts of on long-term conservation.

The researchers warn that conservation expenditure will have to dramatically increase to compete with future agriculture.

Said Jacob Phelps, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science and first author of the study, “Our research suggests that as agriculture becomes more intensive, the small payments successful at incentivising forest conservation today could increase to well beyond what is considered economically efficient, or even feasible. We anticipate that similar patterns are likely across the tropics, including in places like Indonesia.” 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National University of Singapore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Phelps, L. R. Carrasco, E. L. Webb, L. P. Koh, U. Pascual. Agricultural intensification escalates future conservation costs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1220070110

Cite This Page:

National University of Singapore. "Escalating cost of forest conservation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085151.htm>.
National University of Singapore. (2013, April 16). Escalating cost of forest conservation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085151.htm
National University of Singapore. "Escalating cost of forest conservation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416085151.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins