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3.3.6: Economic Influences on Conservation

  • Page ID
    37287
  • Economics greatly impacts conservation success. Short-term profits can incentivize individuals, companies, or governments to harvesting resources at an unsustainable rate and at the expense of ecosystem health. In impoverished regions, compromising habitat to grow high-value crops, such as coffee or oil palms, or poaching endangered species may seem like the only source of income. One solution is debt-for-nature swaps through which one country forgives the debt of another if the latter agrees to protect natural areas. These conservation efforts can provide a new source of income for residents near the protected areas. For example, the United States forgave $20 million in debt from Costa Rica. In exchange, Costa Rica invested in expanding its protected areas and developing the ecotourism industry, which provides jobs to many of its residents (figure \(\PageIndex{a}\)). Ecotourism involves visiting and enjoying natural areas while minimizing ecological damage. Ecotourism can benefit local economies and alleviate poverty especially if the earnings from it are reinvested into the communities living near tourist destinations. It generates jobs such as park operators, sellers of local crafts, and tour guides. 

    A tourist riding a zipline over the dense rainforest canopy, which consists of any tree species. The distant background appears faint due to fog.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{a}\): A tourist ziplines over the Costa Rican rainforest. Image by Khaufle at the English language Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA).

    Attribution

    Modified by Melissa Ha from Ecotourism from Life Sciences Grade 10 by Siyavula (licensed under CC-BY)