A conservation industry for sustaining natural capital and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes
Conservation investment in agricultural landscapes has evolved to take a more market-based or business approach. However, current levels of conservation investment are not likely to mitigate degradation to natural capital and ecosystem services. We propose the further evolution of a conservation industry to generate substantially increased investment in conservation in agricultural landscapes, particularly from the private sector. A mature conservation industry is envisaged as comprising of investors, producers, and service providers who produce conservation products and services, exchanged via market transactions. A number of requirements for a viable and effective conservation industry are identified including institutional infrastructure (conservation market institutions and regulatory systems), information provision (quantifying benefits, business models, and accounting and auditing standards), and facilitation (entrepreneurship incubation and capacity building). A conservation industry requires careful design and planning in order to operate effectively. Whilst it is not without risk, a conservation industry has the potential to increase participation and investment in conservation actions and enhance the sustainability of agricultural landscapes.
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