Saving The Pandas Is Worth Every Cent

Protecting giant pandas generates benefits that amount to 10-27 times the cost of conservation efforts, scientists say.

AsianScientist (Jul. 10, 2018) – Scientists in China have demonstrated that panda conservation is worth approximately US$2.6-6.9 billion every year, in contrast to the cost of conservation which amounts to US$255 million per year. Their findings are published in Current Biology.

The giant panda is a flagship species of wildlife conservation worldwide. It is also an umbrella species—protecting the giant panda also benefits other endangered wildlife that exist in the same geographic location.

The fourth national survey of giant pandas conducted in 2010 revealed that both the population of giant pandas and the size of their habitats has increased since the last survey in 2000. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) down-listed the status of the giant panda from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ based on species ranking criteria.

However, over the past five decades of giant panda conservation work, many have questioned whether investing a large amount of money in panda conservation is worthwhile.

To determine the value of panda conservation, a research team led by Professor Wei Fuwen from the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences assessed the value of ecosystem services from giant panda reserves. Ecosystem services refer to the benefits humans derive from the ecosystem. These benefits are related to provisioning (e.g. food and water), regulation (e.g. flood or disease control) and culture (e.g. recreation and natural beauty).

Based on detailed calculations, the value of provisioning and regulatory services from the giant pandas and their habitat within nature reserves in 2010 was estimated to be US$1.9 billion, and the value of cultural services in 2010 was worth US$709 million for the Chinese population and for tourists from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The total value of ecosystem service was US$2.6 billion.

If the cultural service value was estimated for the global human population, the total value of ecosystem services would be US$6.9 billion. This is about 10-27 times the conservation cost of giant pandas. Their findings have important implications for giant panda conservation, expansion of the nature reserve network such as the Giant Panda National Park, and other investments in natural capital.

Furthermore, the study addresses long-term public concerns about the costs and benefits of giant panda conservation, also helping to correct misunderstandings about giant panda conservation.

The article can be found at: Wei et al. (2018) The Value of Ecosystem Services from Giant Panda Reserves.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Wei Fuwen.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist