Recognise and quantify the local economic value derived from the use of biological resources (e.g. traditional medicines, building materials, wild food) by the informal sector in development and land-use planning efforts. This will include consideration of the social economic and environmental costs and benefits of having to use alternative resources if natural biological resources are lost or degraded.
In many countries agricultural activities will not only continue to earn foreign exchange from commodity exports, but will also form the basis for expanded and value-added activities throughout the country's industry. In many cases, the narrow genetic base of the industrial crops used requires the introduction of exotic genetic variability for future crop improvement.
The tourism industry relies on the state of a country's diverse and unspoilt natural beauty, including its unique species of plants and animals in national parks, wildlife reserves, bird parks, marine parks and their adjacent coral reefs.
There is a need for countries endowed with rich biological diversity and traditional healing cultures to develop the economic potential of their medicinally useful plants. Many plants, not presently used in traditional medicine, also contain biologically active compounds that are likely to be the starting materials for a large number of drugs. Nearly one quarter of medicine prescribed in the United States of America are of plant origin, with the current market for plant-derived pharmaceuticals estimated at US$9 billion per year.
The benefits of conserving biodiversity are numerous. A large proportion of populations in developing countries are directly dependent upon biological resources for subsistence purposes, including the gathering, harvesting or hunting of animals and plants for food, medicine, shelter, fuel, building materials, and trade. The use of biological resources thus provides an important buffer against poverty, as well as opportunities for self-employment in the informal sector.
While the benefits arising from the conservation of biodiversity are not restricted to the direct use of species, ecosystems are directly used for grazing, croplands, mining, recreation and tourism. If such resources are not adequately conserved, there is a risk of losing the economic benefits gleaned from their use, and of foreclosing options for their use by future generations.