Appeal to Brazil: invest just 0.01% GDP & save your precious Atlantic rainforest

According to new research it would only cost Brazil 0.01% of its Gross Domestic Product to conserve its precious Atlantic rainforest. Which means there's no reasonable financial excuse for not doing so.

The country's Atlantic coast forest once extended 1.5 million square kilometres. These days deforestation has reduced its spread to just 160,000km2 and the region is home to more than 130 million people. But the Mata Atlântica is one of the most important and threatened areas of biodiversity on the planet, home to the only living examples of almost ten thousand plant and bird species – that's more bird species than the whole of Europe.

Conserve 30% of the forest and save more or less 100% of the species living there

The research, reported in the Science journal, was carried out by an international team of scientists. They've figured out that it'd cost just 198 million US dollars a year to pay the private owners of land in the region to set aside land for re-forestation. And they've calculated this would be enough, along with existing conserved land, to protect the majority of the unique species living there.

The team collected data in 79 different forest regions spread over 150 kilometres, estimating at least 30% of the current native habitat needs to be preserved to conserve the species that live there. In short, preserving the forest is both feasible and affordable. Once the financial barriers have been broken down, the other reasons for not conserving the remaining forest – greed, inertia and ignorance – are the only issues left to tackle.

Conservation costs reduce to 0.0026% of GDP after 3 years

$198m represent just 6.5% of Brazil's total investment in agricultural subsidies, and less than 0.01 per cent of the nation's yearly GDP. Spend that for three years running and the annual cost would come down even more, reducing to a miniscule 0.0026% of GDP once active restoration has been paid for.

The findings are great news, since there's no longer a financial excuse to carry on deforestation and no longer any reason to think conservation is too expensive. The findings will also act as a practical tool for planning sustainable landscapes worldwide, can be included in land use policies and socio-environmental certification incentives.

Guest post on behalf of the Rainforest Foundation. Image by  Jose Roberto V Moraes.

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