Wilderness: Why untouched nature brings in more than agricultural land

“Even if one is only interested in dollars and cents, preserving and restoring nature is very often the best choice for human prosperity today,” says Andrew Balmford of the University of Cambridge, co-author of a new study on the value of nature.

The researchers analyzed 62 areas worldwide. Accordingly, the economic benefits of ecosystem services such as carbon storage and flood protection are often greater than those achieved through forestry or the cultivation of grain, sugar or cocoa. For example, if Nepal’s 159 square kilometer Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park were converted into agricultural land, the area could store 60 percent less carbon. The water quality would drop by 88 percent; compared to its use as a natural paradise, a deficit of 9.2 million euros per year can be expected.

The results confirm the British economist Partha Dasgupta, who recently called in a report to put the value of natural diversity at the center of global economies. Central to this is the pricing of carbon sinks. Intact ecosystems have a climate-regulating effect, which could be rewarded with so-called carbon credits.

But at the moment, for example, the EU agriculture ministers are again failing to take such principles into account in the upcoming reorganization of EU agricultural policy. The sustainability economist Maja Göpel from the Hamburg think tank The New Institute saw it at an event organized by the »Scientists for Future« said: In view of the “irreversibility” of the destruction of nature, the time is actually over, “when you have to talk about whether ecology can cost something”. To be feared are “completely changed livelihoods for the next generations”.

Stay healthy!

Yours Philip Bethge

(Feedback & suggestions?)


My reading recommendations this week:

  • A kingdom for a vaccine: Our correspondent Jörg Schindler explains how Great Britain is finding its way out of the corona crisis.
  • This is how you lose the most weight while jogging. A physiologist explains in an interview why exercise in the morning and without breakfast can burn fat particularly well.
  • A huge iceberg has broken off in Antarctica. My colleague Christoph Seidler spoke to the crew of the »Polarstern« who happened to be nearby. His report is worth reading, the photos are spectacular.
  • In the Alps, climate change is gradually making snow a scarce commodity. In the 1970s, the ski season was up to 34 days longer.


1. How many national parks are there in Germany? 4, 16 or 30?

2. Where did the establishment of a national park fail due to popular resistance? Bavarian Forest, Harz or Siebengebirge?

3. What percentage of the terrestrial area of ​​Germany is designated as a national park? 0.6 percent, 1.7 percent or five percent?

* You can find the answers at the bottom of the newsletter.

Picture of the week

Yawning is contagious – also with lions, as researchers report in the journal “Animal Behavior”. They had filmed two packs in South Africa around the clock and determined that the contagious yawning started, especially when the animals relaxed, day and night. Apparently this synchronizes the animals’ motor skills. The two little lions yawning in competition were photographed in Zimbabwe.


706 People in Germany will suffer from early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) in 2020; the highest value since the disease became notifiable in 2001, according to the University of Hohenheim. The TBE virus is transmitted by ticks. The cause of the trend is unclear.

Recommendations from science

* Quizantworten

1) 16
2) Siebengebirge
3) 0.6 percent

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