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Sustaining Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions

Economic Issues

Clement A. Tisdell

This innovative book identifies socio-economic processes which transform the stock of genetic resources and ecosystems and discusses sustainability issues raised by variations in this stock. It focuses subsequently on the socio-economics of the conservation and change in the stock of human developed germplasm and ecosystems. Particular attention is given to crops, livestock, GMOs, reduced economic value due to biological erosion, alternative agroecosystems, and property rights in germplasm. The book concludes with an exploration of the economic topics dealing with changes in the stock of wild germplasm and natural ecosystems, and discusses the associated valuation problems.
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Chapter 11: The conservation and loss of wild biodiversity and natural ecosystems: basic economic issues

Clement A. Tisdell


Whereas the previous part of this book focused primarily on human managed biodiversity and human developed ecosystems, this part deals mainly with the economics of the conservation and loss of wild biodiversity and natural ecosystems. The discussion in this chapter extends that in Chapters 2 and 3, by paying particular attention to the basic economics of the loss of wild biodiversity, including natural ecosystems. However, it needs to be recognized that there is no distinct division between wild (unmanaged) biodiversity and human managed biodiversity because the extent to which human beings influence biodiversity forms a continuous spectrum.

Nevertheless, because of bounded rationality, it is not practical to analyse all possibilities on the multidimensional spectrum of biodiversity. It is only practical to analyse some of the ‘ideal’ or selected types in this spectrum. By doing so, we can obtain an improved appreciation of the whole spectrum and can develop our selection of economic techniques to assess these different situations. In cases where biodiversity is highly controlled by human beings, private goods (the consumption of which is rivalrous and excludable) are mainly produced. By contrast, in cases where wild (unmanaged) biodiversity is a prominent feature of an ecosystem, the commodities (services) supplied usually contain a large public good or quasi-public good component, even though a private good component may also be present. For example, products, such as wild fish, involving rivalrous consumption may be extracted from unmanaged or slightly managed ecosystems.

In the latter case, mixed...

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