Conserving tropical biodiversity via market forces and spatial targeting

Protected public lands are insufficient to halt the loss of global biodiversity. However, most commercial landowners need incentives to engage in conservation. Through an interdisciplinary study examining palm-oil plantations in Sumatra, we demonstrate that (i) joint consideration of both biodiversity and economic relationships permits the spatial targeting of areas that enhance conservation of International Union for Conservation of Nature Red Listed species at relatively low cost to the landowner and (ii) the potential exists for funding such private costs of conservation through a price premium on a conservation-certified good. Such an approach avoids the need to assume intervention from an international social planner, while establishing the potential for profitable conservation on private lands, providing an important additional route for sustaining endangered species.

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