TNC's Dangermond Preserve, California. Native flowers looking north toward Jalama Beach State Park near sunset.
Dangermond Preserve TNC's Dangermond Preserve, California. Native flowers looking north toward Jalama Beach State Park near sunset. © Bill Marr/TNC

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Reaction: Campaign for Nature study provides clearest evidence yet of economic benefits of protected areas

New study highlights financial advantages of protecting 30% of Earth’s lands and oceans

At a crucial time for environmental policy, the Campaign for Nature (CFN) and National Geographic Society today unveiled what is claimed to be the most comprehensive report to date on the economic implications of expanding the planet's network of protected and conserved areas. 

Commenting in response to the report's publication – Andrew Deutz – Director of Global Policy, Institutions and Conservation Finance at The Nature Conservancy – said:

“The Nature Conservancy (TNC) thanks CFN and National Geographic Society for leading what surely constitutes the most comprehensive global assessment of the financial and economic benefits of protected areas published to date.”

“The report provides invaluable scientific underpinning for what we already know to be true – simply put, that the benefits of investing in greater protection for nature across the world will far outweigh the economic costs of achieving the 30% target. The cost of achieving this is roughly $140 billion per year by 2030 – but the economic benefits are multiples of that – several hundred billion dollars per year.” 

“In addition, the importance of protected areas has been greatly magnified during the COVID pandemic. The report cites that protected habitats provide significant mental and physical health benefits saving $ trillions annually. Protecting, restoring and investing in nature can also reduce the risk of new zoonotic disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, a cost saving we cannot even begin to calculate to society-at-large.”

The Nature Conservancy’s Global Managing Director for Protection, Jeffrey Parrish, emphasized the critical role of Indigenous peoples in the planet’s future trajectory. 

“Crucially, the report also underscores the vital role of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in achieving and securing this vision, reflecting their millennia-old and still relevant experiences of stewarding lands and waters. By securing greater recognition and a platform for IPLCs, we will secure greater protection for nature itself, while avoiding further derogation of Indigenous rights.”

Deutz emphasized: “The Nature Conservancy endorses the report’s recommendations that funding must come from all sources – including official development assistance, domestic public budgets, climate financing directed into nature-based solutions, philanthropies, corporations, and new sources of revenue or savings through regulatory and subsidy changes. We also agree that the bulk of additional funding needs to be directed towards low-and-middle income countries, which so often host disproportionate shares of the world’s surviving biodiversity.”

“This economic assessment follows an urgent call from scientists to protect at least 30% of the earth’s land and sea by 2030 to halt the collapse of biodiversity. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has included this goal in its draft 10-year strategy which is to be ­finalized and approved at UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 in Kunming, China in May 2021.”

“With other significant studies expected over the coming months from influential bodies including the World Economic Forum (WEF), United Kingdom government (HM Treasury’s Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity), and ourselves at The Nature Conservancy with partners, unprecedented academic attention is focused on how we can accurately value and protect the irreplaceable contribution made by nature to our global economy. The Campaign for Nature deserves credit for this significant intervention as plans take shape for Kunming.”                                                                                                                          

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.