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Harmony of humans and nature and protecting biodiversity

As Professor Edward Wilson of Harvard University suggests, organized efforts to preserve non-human life forms have undergone changes over time that offer some hope of success.
Early on, not unlike the esthetic rationale for preserving historical buildings and scenic vistas, they had focused on individual animals, the rhino, panda, eagles and other “charismatic” creatures.
In recent decades, Dr. Wilson notes, conservation efforts have “steadily broadened until [they] included all of the world’s threatened biodiversity.”
The news is not good as yet. All over the globe, humans are still bulldozing and hunting nature to oblivion; more than hundred creatures are lost day after day. Even in nature reserves, as a National Public Radio report from South Africa indicated last week, rhinos are being killed by poachers for their tusks, these being thought by some people to heighten their erogenous pleasures.
Yet, the reserves are being managed as intact natural systems where the effort on behalf of endangered animals simultaneously protects thousands of other species. Through tourism revenue and nature based products, this new trend–protecting habitats as a whole–makes economic assets of reserves for indigenous people who live in or near them and manage them for sustainability.
We have long had awareness that nature’s “services” are vital to people and economies. Agricultural productivity would crash without the pollination functions of bees and other creatures. Nature provides endless varieties of food, wood and other fibers, fresh water and clean air, space for human recreation and spiritual renewal, numerous pharmaceuticals.
A rare Australian frog secreted an acid-neutralizing substance while carrying its tadpoles to full growth in its stomach, a potentially promising new treatment for ulcers in people. The frog became extinct before the medicine was explored, an example of innumerable benefits at risk when biodiversity is not preserved.
The New Scientist reported a study recently, by an international group of environmental economists, which put a cash value on the services we owe to nature. It indicates, one example, that protecting and replanting coastal swamps in Vietnam costs $1.1 million per year but reduces spending on dykes, for erosion prevention and storm protection, by seven times as much. Our northern temperate forests give worth of up to $4,900 per hectare per year in food and watershed protection, tropical rainforests up to $23,000 in climate regulation, medicinal and other resources and values. For every ecosystem investigated, the authors found the economic benefits of protection to be between twice and 75 times higher than the cost.
Government representatives from 193 nations met in Nagoya, Japan in October to seek more effective ways of implementing an existing, international biodiversity-protection treaty–the Convention on Biological Diversity–adopted at the Earth Summit in 1992. Achieving “Harmony of Humans and Nature,” the theme of the Nagoya meeting, will indeed be needed, critically and soon, if the planet is to continue to sustain human needs into the future.
One appreciates that, this year in Nagoya, the U.S. was an active participant in the international effort, in contrast to 1992 when it was not.