TESSA: A practical tool to measure the impact of protecting biodiversity

phys.org | 9/12/2014 | Staff
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Researchers, public officials and NGOs often ask, "Can we put a price on forests?". The question may sound absurd or even cynical, but as an expert in environmental-conservation practices, I believe that measuring biodiversity value could help us better preserve it. Evaluating the "price" of a forest, a lake or a hill for a village, a city or even a country would ensure better conservation practices.

This is why we developed the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA). The project is designed to support global environmental governance by allowing local NGOs to quantify—arguably for the first time ever—the real economic impact or advantages of maintaining an ecosystem for biodiversity conservation.

Thousands - NGOs - Agencies - Government - Bodies

Thousands of local NGOs, agencies, government bodies or even private citizens can use the tool to measure the impact of environment conservation and help protect the environment. The data collected would improve the information available and could help produce better public policies. At the very least, public authorities could not deny or minimize the importance of protecting biodiversity.

The simple toolkit will present a convincing economic case—backed up by real figures—to make the argument that it is actually in the national interest to preserve biodiversity.

Decade - NGOs—and - Developing - Challenges - Efforts

As recently as a decade ago, environmental NGOs—and especially those in the developing world—faced immense challenges in their efforts to persuade governments that there are direct and distinct advantages in protecting nature and safeguarding its benefits (also termed ecosystem services or nature's contributions to people).

Of course, grassroots organizations could call upon and draw inspiration from the "ecosystem approach" – a framework for understanding the nexus between people and their environment. It was endorsed by the Convention of Biological Diversity adopted in 2000 to illustrate—albeit often in abstract terms—the value of nature and the importance of safeguarding healthy and resilient natural environments.

NGOs - Yardstick

However, NGOs still lacked a yardstick, a "ready...
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