Rainforest conservation worth the cost shows new study
University of Alberta news release
November 2, 2005
The economic benefits of protecting a rainforest reserve outweigh the costs of preserving it says a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A cost-benefit analysis of Mabira Forest Reserve in southern Uganda found that conservation was economically viable despite intense pressures to exploit the forest for timber harvesting, fuelwood, charcoal production, and agricultural development. The research suggests rainforest conservation can play an important economic role in rural communities.
Since 1996, an ecotourism centre has been established at the forest and a growing number of international tourists continue to visit the reserve. Naidoo and Adamowicz found that the higher the number of bird species that could be seen, the more tourists would be willing to pay. And by increasing entrance fees, the reserve could preserve 90 per cent--or 131 species--of the forest's birds.
The research team also learned that based on current land values, it would not be economically justifiable to convert agricultural land back into forest. In other words, it is far cheaper to preserve these tropical forests now than to rehabilitate spoiled ecosystems in the future.
"There have been lots of examples of dollar figures associated with rainforests but this looked specifically at whether it is economically worth it to preserve diversity or would they be better off selling the land privately," said Adamowicz. "By providing a cost-benefit analysis, this study has just closed the loop."
This is a modified press release from the University of Alberta.