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Inequitable Gains and Losses from Conservation in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot


  • Philip J. Platts

    (University of York
    BeZero Carbon Ltd)

  • Marije Schaafsma

    (VU University Amsterdam)

  • R. Kerry Turner

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Neil D. Burgess

    (UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)
    University of Copenhagen
    University of Cambridge)

  • Brendan Fisher

    (University of Vermont
    University of Vermont)

  • Boniface P. Mbilinyi

    (Sokoine University of Agriculture)

  • Pantaleo K. T. Munishi

    (Sokoine University of Agriculture)

  • Taylor H. Ricketts

    (University of Vermont
    University of Vermont)

  • Ruth D. Swetnam

    (Staffordshire University)

  • Antje Ahrends

    (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)

  • Biniam B. Ashagre

    (Anglia Ruskin University)

  • Julian Bayliss

    (Oxford Brookes University)

  • Roy E. Gereau

    (Missouri Botanical Garden)

  • Jonathan M. H. Green

    (Stockholm Environment Institute York, University of York)

  • Rhys E. Green

    (University of Cambridge
    RSPB Centre for Conservation Science)

  • Lena Jeha

    (Zoological Society London)

  • Simon L. Lewis

    (University College London
    University of Leeds)

  • Rob Marchant

    (University of York)

  • Andrew R. Marshall

    (University of York
    University of the Sunshine Coast
    Flamingo Land)

  • Sian Morse-Jones

    (Collingwood Environmental Planning Limited)

  • Shadrack Mwakalila

    (University of Dar Es Salaam)

  • Marco A. Njana

    (Tanzania Forest Services Agency
    Wildlife Conservation Society)

  • Deo D. Shirima

    (Sokoine University of Agriculture
    National Carbon Monitoring Centre, Sokoine University of Agriculture)

  • Simon Willcock

    (Bangor University
    Rothamsted Research, West Common)

  • Andrew Balmford

    (University of Cambridge)


A billion rural people live near tropical forests. Urban populations need them for water, energy and timber. Global society benefits from climate regulation and knowledge embodied in tropical biodiversity. Ecosystem service valuations can incentivise conservation, but determining costs and benefits across multiple stakeholders and interacting services is complex and rarely attempted. We report on a 10-year study, unprecedented in detail and scope, to determine the monetary value implications of conserving forests and woodlands in Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains. Across plausible ranges of carbon price, agricultural yield and discount rate, conservation delivers net global benefits (+US$8.2B present value, 20-year central estimate). Crucially, however, net outcomes diverge widely across stakeholder groups. International stakeholders gain most from conservation (+US$10.1B), while local-rural communities bear substantial net costs (-US$1.9B), with greater inequities for more biologically important forests. Other Tanzanian stakeholders experience conflicting incentives: tourism, drinking water and climate regulation encourage conservation (+US$72M); logging, fuelwood and management costs encourage depletion (-US$148M). Substantial global investment in disaggregating and mitigating local costs (e.g., through boosting smallholder yields) is essential to equitably balance conservation and development objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip J. Platts & Marije Schaafsma & R. Kerry Turner & Neil D. Burgess & Brendan Fisher & Boniface P. Mbilinyi & Pantaleo K. T. Munishi & Taylor H. Ricketts & Ruth D. Swetnam & Antje Ahrends & Biniam, 2023. "Inequitable Gains and Losses from Conservation in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 86(3), pages 381-405, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:86:y:2023:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-023-00798-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-023-00798-y

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    References listed on IDEAS

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