There is increasing debate about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for global biodiversity and efforts to conserve it.
Short-term benefits for biodiversity have been discussed, such as less pollution as a result of reduced human activity, wildlife reclaiming human-dominated habitats, and enforced shutdowns making people more aware of the species and ecosystems around them, perhaps awakening public concern for the state of nature.
The pandemic also has short-term downsides for biodiversity and conservation linked to the severe global economic recession it has triggered. Examples include increase consumption of wild species in developing countries and the reduced financial and human capital of conservation organisations.
Although such short-term beneficial impacts and downsides on biodiversity have been widely discussed, there is less attention to the political and economic responses to the crisis and their implications for conservation. Noragric teamed up with the University of Cambridge and NINA to determine four possible alternative future policy responses:
- Restoration of the previous economy
- Removal of obstacles to economic growth
- Green recovery
- Transformative economic reconstruction.
Each alternative offers opportunities and risks for conservation. They differ in the agents they emphasize to mobilize change (e.g. markets or states) and in the extent to which they prioritize or downplay the protection of nature. The study analyses the advantages and disadvantages of these four options from a conservation perspective.
The choice of post-COVID-19 recovery strategy has huge significance for the future of biodiversity, and conservationists of all persuasions must not shrink from engagement in the debates to come, say the authors.
Read the article in Oryx:
Biodiversity conservation in a post-COVID-19 economy
By Chris Sandbrook, Erik Gómez-Baggethun & William M. Adams