Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Cost of Saving Species from Extinction

By Stephen Luntz

An international team has estimated the cost of shifting every endangered species to a lower status, and come up with two figures.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

They conclude it would cost $74.8 billion per year to protect and manage all land sites of global conservation significance. However, just $3.9 billion is required to conduct the interventions that would move critically endangered species to endangered status, while making endangered species merely threatened.

Although the figures sound daunting, the lead author of the Science paper who set out the estimates, Mr Donal McCarthy, notes: “The total is just 1–4% of the value of ecosystem services being lost annually, which equates to $2.1 trillion to $6.5 trillion in losses per year”. For example, ecosystems that are biologically diverse are more robust and more likely to provide services such as clean water.

The combined expenditure is also less than $1 per month for every person on Earth.

McCarthy is an environmental economist at BirdLife International, and the team used birds as a test case, estimating the cost of protecting endangered bird species and then extrapolating to nature at large.

“This study is groundbreaking because the cost of retaining the world’s animal and plant species has never been estimated before,” says co-author Prof Stephen Garnett of Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods.

Garnett says the best way to spend money varies by species, including “halting habitat loss, altering...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.