BROOKLIN, Canada, May 29 (IPS) – Build a shrimp farm in Thailand by cutting down mangrove forests and you will net about 8,000 dollars per hectare. Meanwhile, the destruction of the forest and pollution from the farm will result in a loss of ecosystems worth 35,000 dollars/ha per year.
Many leading development institutions and policy-makers still fail to understand that this ruthless exploitation for short-term profits could trigger an Enron-like collapse of “Earth, Inc.”, experts say.
For example, the World Bank and other economic development agencies would happily loan a shrimp farmer 100,000 dollars to clear more mangroves.
All economies depend on the natural capital lying within nature’s lands, waters, forests, and reefs, but humans have often treated them as if they had little value or were inexhaustible.
“Up till now, humans have been exploiting natural capital to maximise production of food, timber, oil and minerals at the expense of soil, water and biodiversity,” said Janet Ranganathan, director of people and ecosystems at the Washington-based World Resources Institute … (full text).