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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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.
Protected areas, and the ecosystems and biodiversity within, provide many benefits for people. This includes protecting biodiversity’s intrinsic values, but also safeguarding the benefits people gain from them, such as the provision and regulation of water sources, and the climate benefits of stored carbon. Consequently, protected areas are now acknowledged as an important component of sustainable development. It is imperative to track and monitor networks of protected areas and their surroundings to ensure sustainable management of landscapes and seascapes.