other arrests!

Shueyi at aol.com Shueyi at aol.com
Tue Sep 23 15:18:20 EDT 1997

In a message dated 97-09-23 14:23:59 EDT, you write:

 In response to a typo-filled post by me, Mark Wakker relplied:
 >> There is another complete side to the commercial exploitation issue that
 >> and does not apply here.  Bio-propecting.  As the economic argument to
 >> biodiversity is pushed, many use the example of drugs derived from
 >> plants/animlas, genetic material for recombinant work, etc as one of the
 >> reasons to save rainforests.  This has created some nervousness in
 >> countries.  They are asked to "conserve" their resources, but they see
 >> the money going to big US and European companies.  Thus, they want to
 >> that they get their share of potential profits.
 >Good point.  I find this situation to be one of the most obnoxious aspects
 >the current debate.  In fact, it's so obnoxious that I've chosen to ignore
 >for the most part.  The implication is that the permitting process has
 >at all to do with the preservation of species, but rather the securing of
 >economic interest.  While it is appropriate for a ruling government to make
 >such a decision, it becomes difficult (and even absurd) to defend these
 >regulations on behalf of wildlife protection.  I would think that this
 >would be the worst nightmare for collectors and conservationists (not
>?exclusive) alike.
> Again, the solution is to (if possible) eliminate the economic value of the
> resource.  This is difficult to do when there are significant medicinal or
> other altruistic benefits, but even then - given that there are
alternatives -
> it should be possible to kill the market by eliminating the demand.  In the
> case of butterflies, it sure seems like this is within the realm of
> possibility.

My thoughts run exactly counter to Mark's - I actually think that it is a
good thing for developing countries see econimic value in their natural
ecosystems.  The primary driver behind landuse is the economy.  Here in the
Midwest USA, the most econimically productive use of land is agriculture.
 Thus, I live in a state that is largely deforested, has less that 0.01% of
its native grasslands intact, etc...  Now, would things be different if
people could make money off of intact native habitats?.  If royalties from
drug companies could pay more per acre  than does corn production?  How about
if producing high-quality timber paid as much as soybeans per acre?  I f this
were the case, you would see native habitats instead of row-crops covering
the tillplains of the Midwest.

The same goes for tropical countries.  If native habitats have more economic
value than a pasture, would not this result in people choosing to maintain
native habitats?  Humans, by and large, are interested in economic
activities, especially activities that benefit us directly.  Thus, the
ability to economically exploit native habitats is a positive in my mind, one
that is likely to allow native habitats to persist.  Governments operate just
like people, except that they have the ability to influence a heck-of-a-lotta

The key to influencing landuse change is to influence the economic drivers
behind landuse change.  Figure out ways to favor sustainably produced forest
products.  Figure out how to derive monetary income from undisturbed native
habitats through ecoturism or bio-prospecting.  Farm butterflies.  I don't
care what you do, but it has to provide more economic value that does
converting the habitat to agriculture.

Thus, I lost my liana samples, and it weakens our data a little.  But so
what.  Belize may figure out how to keep most of the country's forests
intact, and to move away from the terrible tree mining operations that
currently offer the only decient economic returns.

John Shuey

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