‘Biodiversity’ down, ‘ecosystem services’ up

Does what we say reflect what we think?

CEED researchers have found that the term ‘biodiversity’ is less prevalent in conservation policy discourse these days.

In an effort to learn about how biodiversity conservation has been framed in recent years, Alex Kusmanoff and colleagues at RMIT University analysed the text of media releases by the Australian Government environment portfolio and the Australian Conservation Foundation over a ten year period (from 2003 – 2014). They found that there has been a decrease in the use of the term ‘biodiversity’ and an increase in the use of economic language, including regular use of ‘ecosystem services’ concepts.

In contrast, over the same time period, ‘biodiversity’ has increased in use within scientific literature.

What does this mean for biodiversity conservation? There is concern that consistent framing of biodiversity in economic terms (such as ecosystem services) will promote the value of biodiversity as a resource over its intrinsic value.

The Great Barrier Reef is a centre of biodiversity much valued by most Australians. Increasingly, however, that value is being framed in economic terms. Deloitte Access Economics, for example, recently priced the Reef’s economic, social and icon value as being worth $56 billion dollars. And, while economic framings are on the increase, the term ‘biodiversity’ itself is on the decrease (consider the badging of the 2010 IYB below). RMIT researchers wonder if this has consequences for biodiversity conservation. (Photo of the GBR by K Connors, Morguefile).

The Great Barrier Reef is a centre of biodiversity much valued by most Australians. Increasingly, however, that value is being framed in economic terms. Deloitte Access Economics, for example, recently priced the Reef’s economic, social and icon value as being worth $56 billion dollars. And, while economic framings are on the increase, the term ‘biodiversity’ itself is on the decrease (consider the badging of the 2010 IYB below). RMIT researchers wonder if this has consequences for biodiversity conservation. (Photo of the GBR by K Connors, Morguefile).


More info: Alex Kusmanoff alex.kusmanoff@rmit.edu.au

Reference

Kusmanoff AM, F Fidler, A Gordon& SA Bekessy (2017). Decline of ‘biodiversity’ in conservation policy discourse in Australia. Environmental Science & Policy 77 160-165 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.08.016 .

1 comment on “‘Biodiversity’ down, ‘ecosystem services’ up”

  1. Sophie Reply

    What is your view on the Qld government’s deregulation to allow the mining industry to impact on the our national treasure?

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