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The Value of Biodiversity


Originally used by natives to poison arrow tips. ... Ivermectin -- which kill parasitic worms from bacteria Streptomyces avermitlis ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Value of Biodiversity

The Value of Biodiversity
Why preserve biodiversity?
  • Ecosystem function and world climate
  • Aesthetic value
  • Moral Responsibility
  • Products essential for human heath and well-being

Human beings exist because of biodiversity
  • 1. Phytoplankton produce the oxygen we breathe
  • 2. E. coli digests food in our guts

  • Plants turn energy and carbon into carbohydrates
    and sugar so that we can utilize them or animal
    protein that is produced from plants.
  • The water supply depends on healthy watersheds
  • Most of the important drugs come not from clever
    chemists but from plants and animals that have
    evolved chemical defenses over millions of years.

Foxgloves (Digitalis)
We can consider the value of biodiversity in
different ways
Direct Economic Value
  • Consumptive use value - assigned to goods that
    are consumed locally
  • wild animals
  • fuel wood

Fuelwood as Percentage of Energy Consumption in
Direct Economic Value
  • Productive use value - assigned to products that
    are harvested and sold
  • timber
  • Non-wood products
  • medicinal plants

Indirect Economic Values
  • Nonconsumptive use value
  • environmental services, e.g. wetlands, protection
    of water and soil resources,
  • regulation of world climate, e.g. plants fix
    carbon and produce the oxygen
  • recreation and ecotourism
  • education and scientific value
  • (estimated value of 32 trillion per year)

Option Value
  • Potential of a species/regions to provide an
    economic benefit to human society at some point
    in the future
  • new drugs for treating disease
  • innovations in biotechnology

Existence Value
  • It is inconceivable to me that an ethical
    relation to land can exist without love, respect,
    and admiration for the land, and a high regard
    for its value. By value, I of course mean
    something far broader than mere economic value I
    mean value in the philosophical sense Aldo
    Leopold, 1949

Global Pharmaceutical trade is estimated at
80-90 billion per yearThe loss of species
means loss of chemicals that are potentially
unique in nature and possibly of great use in
treating human disease.
Prospecting for natures chemical richesNearly
a 1/4 of all medical prescriptions are
formulations based on plant or microbial products
or derivatives.New therapies for major
diseases such as AIDS or cancer may be found in
tropical forestsThe World Health Organization
estimates that 2-4 billion people worldwide use
traditional medicines as part of their primary
Humans have always searched for drugs from
natural sources.Quinine for treating malaria
was used by the Incas.Foxgloves for treating
heart conditions (a source of digitalis) was
known in medieval times.
Vincristine -- anticancer drug isolated from the
Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus)Discovered
in 1950s drug of choice for treating childhood
leukemia - increased survival rates from 10 to
Originally used by natives to poison arrow tips.
Muscle relaxant for surgery to treat muscle
disorders like Parkinsons disease and multiple
The correct chemical structure was only
elucidated circa 1970, even though the plant had
been known since the Spanish Conquest (1519-1521)
The Pacific Yew(Taxa sp)Eight of the species of
yew are found in a variety of climates ranging
from the forests of Scandinavia and New England
to the cloud forests of Mexico and Asia.
Pacific Yew Taxus brevifolia Considered by the
logging industry to be a trash tree, its
numbers drastically declined. The yew population
has been halved by clear cutting often the
trees end up in a slash pile.
  • Why conserve the yew?
  • In the 1970s a molecule was discovered from the
    bark of this tree which had remarkable
    anti-cancer properties a molecule called

The license to commercialize and market
paclitaxel (as Taxol) was held by the
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., which was selected for
this role by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
Annual sales reached US1.6 billion in 2001
Clinical trials on human cell lines, patients
with ovarian cancer showed a 30 rate of
improvement after treatment with taxol.Breast
cancer patients showed a 48 improvement rate.
Paclitaxel is also used for the prevention of
restenosis (recurrent narrowing) of coronary
stents a paclitaxel coating limits the growth
of neointima (scar tissue)
The low supply of this drug, which is found in
minute quantities in yew trees, had been a
constant battle for doctors conducting clinical
trials. Chemists found it difficult to
synthesize because the of the complexity of the
16,000 pounds of bark to make 2.2 pounds of
Cyclosporin -- an immunosuppressant from a
Norwegian fungus with 100 million in annual
sales in the U.S.
Ivermectin -- which kill parasitic worms from
bacteria Streptomyces avermitlis- revolutionized
the cattle industry in tropical countries - cure
for river blindness world's second leading
infectious cause of blindness in humans comes
from a Japanese mold.
Ephedra (Ephedraceae, a gymnosperm) have been
used for thousands of years in China. In the
1920's the plant was "discovered" by western
medicine and the active compounds isolated.
Ephedrine and a series of related compounds are
used today as decongestants (e.g., in Sudafed,
Robitussin etc.) and to treat low blood pressure.

Artemisia annua
Member of the sunflower family, show great
promise against drug-resistant Plasmodium
falciparum malaria. In 2000 over 700,000
malaria deaths in Africa
Artemisinin was isolated and characterized in
1972 by a group of Chinese scientists.
Clear need for new drugs from nature.How much
of nature has yet to be examined? No one knows
for sure
Nearly 5,000 species of plants are used for
medicine in China today, a fact that is of
increasing interest to western medical
researchers and pharmaceutical companies.
Alkaloids Data on one major group -- the
alkaloids -- give us some idea of how incomplete
our knowledge is.Thousands of alkaloids have
been characterized chemically, of which hundreds
have proven to be useful as anesthetics,
analgesics, narcotics, vasoconstrictors,
respiratory stimulants, muscle relaxers, and
Alkaloids are derived from flowering plants, yet
only 2 of these plants (about 5,000 out of
250,000) have been tested.The bulk of compounds
have yet to be discovered.
Analgesic drugs Antitumor drugs Emetic
potent hypotensive agents
The search for medicines is a three stage
process1. Prospecting2. Screening3.
Characterization 4. Animal trials5. Clinical
Characterization StageFirst -- Bioassays The
effects of chemical extracts are examined on cell
culture or other target systems.Second
--Purifying the compound.
How can we better develop potential drugs from
the rainforest?Partnerships 1) Merck and
Costa Rica's National Biodiversity Institute
(INBio) that will help Costa Rica preserve its
wildlife while giving Merck a shot at unearthing
profitable new compounds.http//
In return for providing extracts from Costa Rican
plants, insects, and microorganisms, Merck paid
INBio, a private non-profit organization, 1
million up front and a share in the profits from
any new drugs that are developed.2) Glaxo
Wellcome Corp. and Brazilian government recently
signed an agreement to provide 3M to sample and
screen 30,000 plants - the royalties to support
Merck has had some success already. In 1990
Merck sold 735 million worth of Mevacor, a
cholesterol-lowering drug derived from fungus.
These agreements between drug companies and
governments can be win-win situationsThey can
protect the proprietary rights of industry while
recognizing that it is to the advantage of
industrial nations to help with the custodianship
of natural resources.Can be issuesexport laws
can impede science
Biozulua database
Scientists in Venezuela in 2002 started work on a
major project collecting information on the
traditional medicines of the Amazon
rainforest. The Biozulua database, will be an
electronic library of the jungle plants used by
ethnic communities to cure people for
centuries. There are also hopes the database
could eventually lead to the discovery of new
drugs http//
Species that facilitate biotechnology
  • The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) a technique
    for multiplying minute quantities of DNA depends
    on an enzyme that is stable at high temperature

  • A bacterium Thermus aquaticus endemic to hots
  • in Yellowstone was the original sources

FoodsAmaranth - a nutritious grain that was
a staple of the Aztec diet at the time of Spanish
conquest. It was preferred above corn.
Corn or maize - the third most important global
crop valued at more than gt50 billion/year. The
ancestor of maze (Zea Diploperennis) was only
discovered in the late 1970s in Jalisco, Mexico.
Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) from
New Guinea is rich in protein, grows fast, and
all part are edible. With selected breeding and
cultivation, this crop could raise the heath
status of millions around the world.One great
advantage of this bean is that it is a perennial
rather than an annual species!
New sweetening proteinsThe West African Katemfe
protein is 1,600 times sweeter than sucrose.
The thaumatins were first found as a mixture of
proteins isolated from the katemfe fruit
(Thaumatococcus daniellii)
Talin has a characteristic sweetness profile
which is perceived later and lasts longer than
other sweeteners.
African Serendipity Berry Dioscoreophyllum
cumminsii, which has a sweetness 3,000 times
greater than sucrose.
A team comprising French and American scientists
crystallized a natural molecule of thaumatin,
isolated from the African Serendipity Berry.
Natural PesticidesMany plants develop chemical
defenses to deter herbivory.
The advantage of these are that they are
biodegradable.Roundup, a herbicide which is
very effective, is actually a plant hormone (can
still be ecological issues)
FibersRattans for making furniture and binding
materials for thatch. Also important for the
production of many varnishes, dyes, and medicines.
The end products produced from rattan now
approach 4-5 billion in sales, making it
Southeast Asia's most valuable export after
timber. Although not grown on plantations,
there are ways to use these in sustainable ways.
Oils and FatsMany products that may be used in
lieu of plastics.
Babassu Palm Orbignya phalenata (native of
Amazonia) has a variety of uses, from fibers to
to industrial oil.500 trees produce 125 barrels
of oil.
Non-timber Forest ProductsThe sustainable
collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs)
may be one possible way of conserving tropical
forests. But how do how do we develop markets
for these products?
According to Linwood Pendleton, any successful
and sustainable non-timber forestry venture must
meet the eight prerequisites
  • There must be a substantial amount of
    economically valuable forest product in the area
    to be harvested. In other words, the product
    must be common enough to be economically viable.

  • There must be a market for these products or
    their derivatives.
  • The marketing dynamics for many non-forest
    products are not known.

a) strict importation laws for biological
materials and USDA restrictions.
b) Strong international markets for potentially
sustainable products have been established for
relatively few products. Marketing depends on the
tastes of consumers.
If products have high cross-price elasticity's
for demand they many be vulnerable to
substitution. Examples Macadamia nuts for
Brazil nuts, Beach tourism for ecotoursim,
Synthetic oils for natural oils.
But much is in the marketing. Gallop and Harris
polls suggest consumers will pay more for organic
products from companies that promote conservation
Ben and Jerrys and the Body Shop.
Eco-Certification Program
  • The collection of the products must be profitable
    in the short- and long-run.There needs to be a
    market that is sustainable over time.

  • The net pre-set values of non-timber forestry
    must be at least as great as the opportunity cost
    of other forest products. Non-timber forest
    products must be more valuable than cutting down
    the forest.

  • Resources must be accessible.It must be
    possible to get the products to market. This is
    not easy in underdeveloped countries. Increasing
    the market accessibility will mean improving the
    infrastructure, which means building and
    improving roads, this leads to increases in
    deforestation rates.

High transportation costs may mean the product
will cost too much.In Nicaragua imported rattan
is cheaper than the locally available substitute
because of the transportation costs.
  • These resources must be reliably available.Many
    products are not a reliable resource, and are
    subject to seasonality.

  • Resources must be secure over time through land
    tenure.Most experts agree that harvesting in
    perpetuity, or at least into the future, must be
    guaranteed for non-timber forestry to be
    economically more valuable than other destructive
    forest uses.

Without land tenure or a suitable alternative, it
may be in the best interests of forest peoples or
colonists to convert their resources as quickly
and as lucratively as possible.
  • Collection must be sustainable.

  • EXAMPLE of NTFPThe Tagua Initiative Building
    the market for a rainforest product.Tagua is a
    type of palm nut from South America.

Early in the century, before cheap plastics, it
was a very popular material for buttons.
Although they remained popular in Europe
because of their high quality and good looks,
they were no longer used in the U.S.
Through an initiative to market this product
Conservation International is developing a broad
range of tagua products, including buttons,
jewelry, and art work.
Conservation Internationals view is that
conservation cannot succeed in underdeveloped
countries if it is contrary to the basic needs of
local residents. Likewise, native peoples
cannot improve their economic condition if their
natural resources are depleted and they lack the
ability to generate income.
EcuadorAfter a ten year alliance, the Tagua
Initiative has sold more that 6.4 million pounds
of tagua nuts, creating 8 community enterprises
employing 2000 people.and saving millions of
acres of rainforest.
Rainforest products have become very popular with
consumers due to increased awareness of
conservation issues, they still face stiff price
competition in the markets.
Recreation and Ecotourism
  • 200 M adults and children in US spend more that
    54 billion per year on wildlife viewing, fishing
    and hunting
  • Worldwide estimated to total 800 billion per
  • In East African countries such as Kenya and
    Tanzania - 25M per year alone on Elephant viewing

Is ecotourism sustainable?
  • Process of bringing people close to wildlife can
    be destructive (diseases, etc)
  • Not all lands can be supported by ecotourism
  • Link between ecotourism and conservation needs to
    be strengthened-it must be economically more
    valuable than other uses

Gorilla tourism
  • Total annual revenue earned directly or
    indirectly from gorilla tourism is estimated to
    US20 million shared between Rwanda, Uganda and
    the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

What the down side?
  • Disease - Gorillas are closely related to humans,
    making them vulnerable to many of the same
  • Because the gorillas have not developed the
    necessary immunities, first time exposure to an
    illness or virus that is relatively innocuous to
    humans may devastate an entire population.
  • Gorillas live in small groups that may never
    recover from a sudden fall in numbers brought on
    by disease. Any human contact is potentially
    harmful, even life-threatening.

Tragedy of the Commons
  • Type of social trap that involves a conflict over
    resources between individual interests and the
    common good. The term derives originally from a
    parable published by William Forster Lloyd in his
    1833 book on population. It was then popularized
    and extended by Garrett Hardin in his 1968
    Science essay "The Tragedy of the Commons".
    However, the theory itself is as old as Aristotle
    who said "That which is common to the greatest
    number has the least care bestowed upon it".

Tragedy of the commons
  • many natural resources are considered to be
    common property, clean air, clean water,
    biodiversity and are not assigned a monetary
    value or ownership.
  • People, industry and governments use and damage
    these resources without paying much or no cost

Challenge of Ecotourism in the developing
worldThe Dja Reserve Cameroon
500,000 hectare reserve
(No Transcript)
High biodiversity
ECOFAC - (Ecosystem Forestiers dAfrique
Centrale) and NGO, attempted to develop
conservation programs for the reserve including
ecotourismBecause the reserve had no legitimacy
in the eyes of local hunting continued
Locals never consulted - reserve established with
villages included
After 10 years of operation ECOFAC ran out of