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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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Clement A. Tisdell

I was pleased when Edward Elgar Publishing agreed to accept my proposal to publish the manuscript for this book. It gave me an opportunity to combine in one volume many of my views about two major aspects of conservation economics, namely the economics of developing, conserving and changing the stock of human developed germplasm and ecosystems, as well as alterations to wild genetic diversity and natural ecosystems. Biological capital consists basically of two parts: human developed biological capital and natural biological capital, the stock of which is interdependent to some extent. A significant portion of human developed biological capital is a form of heritage capital. In my view, many contemporary studies of the economics are unbalanced because they focus almost exclusively on the importance of natural biological capital as a contributor to human well-being and neglect the importance of the human developed component of human developed biological capital in this regard. A comprehensive and balanced approach to conservation economics requires that both of these components (and their interdependence) be taken into account. This is what I have tried to do in this book. It is a start, but there is more to be done.

While writing the manuscript for this book, I became increasingly aware of the desirability of putting the issues covered into their long-term historical context. This is reflected in parts of this book. My awareness of the need for this was reinforced as a result of joint research on the economic development and diversity of ancient economics which I began in 2014 with Serge Svizzero of the Université de La Réunion, France. Thanks, Serge, for this cooperation.

It was a great encouragement to me (while writing the manuscript for this book) to receive the following email on 15 September, 2014 from Kenneth Arrow:

Hi Clem,

I have been following your work on ResearchGate. I am amazed by its amount and quantity. I just wanted to say, hello.

As ever,


Thanks, Ken. It is rare to get such positive feedback from such an eminent scholar as yourself. I’ll treasure your communication along with a letter I received from Oskar Morgenstern (many years ago) letting me know that he was dying of cancer and urging me ‘not to hide my light under a barrel’. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way.

The School of Economics at The University of Queensland has continued to support my research work and I am grateful to the present Head, Rodney Strachan, and the previous Head for doing this. Evelyn Smart did the word processing for the manuscript, helped me find references and assisted with proofreading. Once again, thanks Evelyn for the help and for successfully deciphering (mostly) my handwriting.

Again, two little dogs (Rani and Sparky) were my companions as I rose early most mornings to complete the manuscript, after which each morning I took them for a walk. Rani, however, is no longer around because she died of a heart attack while the manuscript was being completed.

I especially want to thank my wife, Mariel, for her understanding and support for my continuing interest in writing books. This has meant less shared time than otherwise, and my reluctance to ‘tidy up’. Without Mariel’s support, continuing my research and writing (over many years) would have been impossible. Thanks once again, Mariel.

Clem Tisdell

Brisbane, Australia