Whilst the Earth’s diversity of species and habitats must be preserved first and foremost for their intrinsic value, the solution (from a socio-economic perspective) lies in recognizing and valuing nature for the ecological services it provides – upon which societies and economies are built. Nature, or “Natural Capital” – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – must be preserved and restored as the foundation of human societies and economies.
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Biodiversity offsets offer a promising option for promoting the conservation and sustainable management of natural ecosystems on an expanded scale. In an era of often flat--and sometimes declining--governmental support for conservation in general and protected areas in particular, biodiversity offsets can provide an underutilized opportunity to mobilize substantial new funding. This funding can come from public infrastructure accounts (such as for dams and roads) as well as from the private sector (including extractive industries).
The Global Conservation Fund (GCF), at Conservation International, finances the creation, expansion and long-term management of priority areas for conservation. Made possible by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the GCF has catalyzed more than US$ 200 million for protected area conservation. GCF investments have resulted in the creation and/or expansion of 77 protected areas, resulting in conservation of more than 80 million hectares (197 million acres) around the world.