IUCN - The benefits of nature

The benefits of nature

01 April 2012 | Article

Some facts and figures about Nature  

  • Ecotourism is the fastest-growing area of the tourism industry. In 2004, this market grew three times faster than the industry as a whole. 
  • Wetlands store 20% of the Earth’s carbon.
  • Londoners consume of 72,000 tonnes of fish each year, much of it from the North Sea but also from the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Native bees from tropical forests boost yields in adjacent coffee plantations by 20%, helping farmers meet demand for the second most legally traded commodity after oil.
  • Malagasy rainforests have a high diversity of plants with great medicinal and pharmaceutical properties such as the Rosy Periwinkle which is used by traditional healers in Madagascar and as a source of anti-cancer drugs.
  • Forests support the livelihoods of almost a quarter of humanity.
  • In Vietnam planting and protecting nearly 12,000 hectares of mangroves cost US$ 1.1 million but saved annual expenditures on dyke maintenance of US$ 7.3 million.
  • In the USA in 2006, private spending on wildlife-related recreation such as hunting, fishing and observing wildlife amounted to US$ 122 billion – just under 1% of GDP.
  • Oceans absorb 93.4% of the heat produced by climate change.
  • Coral reefs provide a critical range of services – for natural hazard management (worth up to US$ 189,000/hectare/year), tourism (up to US$ 1 million/hectare/year), genetic materials and bio-prospecting (up to US$57,000/ha/year) and fisheries (up to US$ 3,818 /ha/year).
  • The Te Papanui Conservation Park in New Zealand’s Lammermoor Range provides the Otago region with water for free that would cost NZ$ 136 million to bring in from elsewhere.
  • Many products in the biotechnology industry are derived from genetic resources (enzymes, microorganisms). In 2006 the sector was worth US$ 70 billion - public companies alone.
  • In Venezuela the national protected area system prevents sedimentation that if left unattended could reduce farm earnings by around US$ 3.5 million/year.
  • It has been estimated that conserving 20-30% of global oceans through a network of Marine Protected Areas could create a million jobs and sustain a marine fish catch worth US$70-80 billion/year.

Sources:

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) www.teebweb.org and IUCN.