Land use, national development and global welfare : the economics of biodiversity's conservation and sustainable use
Material prosperity of countries depends on the use of their endowment of natural resources. Land management decisions, in particular, also affect the conservation of biological diversity, which is an asset for not only for the host country, but also for the rest of the world. There is a growing recognition that the contribution of biological resources both to sustainable national development and to the well being of the international community has been underestimated in the past. Based on both theoretical analysis and case study material from Mexico, this dissertation discusses the land-use related factors giving rise to the loss of biodiversity, as well policy options and management practices that may allow sustainable land use and biodiversity conservation. The introductory chapter summarises the scientific and economic debate, including disagreements about the definition of biodiversity management objectives. Chapter 2 analyses the sequence of land use changes typically observed in a number of tropical countries, and discusses interventions which could alter the incentives for land conversion. The Convention on Biological Diversity stipulates that developing countries should be reimbursed for the 'incremental cost' of activities that help conserving biodiversity. Chapter 3 proposes a model which addresses the allocative and incentive implications of the incremental cost mechanism. The empirical part of the dissertation first discusses the social and economic factors that have been responsible over the last few decades for land us change and depletion of biological resources in the study area in Mexico (chapters 4 and 5). A linear programming economic model is then proposed, for simulating, at the farm level, further impacts over the next decade (chapter 5). Based on a model of aggregation over space and time of farm-level decisions, chapter 6 analyzes the appropriate mix of conservation and sustainable use management options in the study area, providing estimates of their cost implications and discussing possible funding sources. Chapter 7 concludes with policy implications and options for future research.