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Cost of forest loss estimated at $2 to $5 trillion each year

Cost of forest loss estimated at $2 to $5 trillion each year

Cost of forest loss estimated at $2 to $5 trillion each year
October 10, 2008

Deforestation and degradation is costing the world economy $2 to $5 trillion per year — an amount greater than Wall Street losses during the current financial crisis — said the lead author of a study that estimated the cost of environmental damage in terms of services provided by healthy ecosystems.

Pavan Sukhdev, lead author of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, a report released this past May, told BBC News that the costs from destruction of ecosystems dwarfs the current banking crisis.

“It’s not only greater but it’s also continuous, it’s been happening every year, year after year,” he was quoted as saying. “So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today’s rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year.”

Danum Valley. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

“Nature provides human society with a vast diversity of benefits such as food, fibers, fuel, clean water, healthy soil, protection from floods, protection from soil erosion, medicines, storing carbon (important in the fight against climate change) and many more,” the report stated. “Though our well being is totally dependent upon these “ecosystem services” they are predominantly public goods with no markets and no prices, so they often are not detected by our current economic compass. As a result, due to the pressures coming from population growth, changing diets, urbanization and also climate change, biodiversity is declining, our ecosystems are being continuously degraded and we, in turn, are suffering the consequences.”

Richard Black. Nature loss ‘dwarfs bank crisis‘. BBC News 10 October 2008

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