Can We Defy Nature's End?


Science Magazine Article Says Yes, Details $30 Billion Cost of Saving Biodiversity

Washington, DC - An international team of leading conservationists calculate that protecting enough biological diversity to sustain a healthy planet will cost some $30 billion, and maintain the money and measures to do so are attainable. Their findings appear in an article entitled, " Can We Defy Nature's End," published in today's Science Magazine.

The article is based on results from the Defying Nature's End conference, convened last August by the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International and co-chaired by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson. The conference focused on developing a results-oriented approach to biodiversity conservation. Based on the findings of that conference, today's Science Magazine article offers specific recommendations for governments, industry and individuals to preserve global biodiversity.

"The goals we set at the Defying Nature's End conference are ambitious, but we have no doubt they are attainable," says Conservation International President Russell A. Mittermeier, a co-author of the article. "If we fail, the scenario is an enormous biodiversity loss in the hotspots, which is simply not an option. Although ambitious, the estimated $30 billion price tag is substantially less than the $40 billion tax refund mailed to American households earlier this summer."

The article states that $25 billion is required to fund the protection of the world's 25 "biodiversity hotspots," which contain high concentrations of species found nowhere else and which are disproportionately vulnerable to extinction. The 25 hotspots represent just 1.4 percent of the world's landmass, but contain a staggering 60 percent of terrestrial species diversity. The remaining $5 billion would help protect the tropical wilderness forests and key marine reserves.

"This is the first time that a plan for addressing the most important crisis for biodiversity has been articulated from both a scientific and practical application point of view," says CABS Executive Director Gustavo Fonseca, another co-author. "We know not only that these suggestions are viable, but we know that they are affordable."

One suggestion, for example, calls for a targeted assault on perverse economic subsidies, governmental policies that degrade the environment. Another is to compete with loggers, using "conservation concessions" as a free-market mechanism to ensure conservation success.

The initial blueprint to carry out the recommendations of the Defy Nature's End Conference will be unveiled October 19th in Portland, Oregon.


The Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS), based at Conservation International, strengthens the ability of CI and other institutions to accurately identify and quickly respond to emerging threats to Earth's biological diversity. CABS brings together leading experts in science and technology to collect and interpret data about biodiversity, to develop strategic plans for conservation and to forge key partnerships in all sectors toward conservation goals.

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