Economic valuation of wildlife species being conducted

Economic valuation of wildlife species, such as marine turtles and blue-naped parrots, is being conducted to help in the prevention of their extinction and protection of their natural systems.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau, Asian Development Bank, and NIRAS Asia Manila sought last August 12 an economic valuation review of wildlife to better appreciate the value of marine turtles and blue-naped parrots, which are  representative of some of the most iconic wildlife of the Philippines.

Led by environmental economist Dr. Agustin Arcenas, the report analyzed the monetary value and ecosystem benefits derived from marine turtles and blue-naped parrots.

"The study aims to convince decision-makers that many animals are worth more alive than dead by assessing the trade, tourism and ecological value of marine turtles and blue-naped parrots," Arcenas explained. 

The results of the study is expected to be completed in the coming months.

Cecilia Fischer from ADB and independent consultant Romeo Trono also shared their inputs during an online event, which is part of the DENR-ADB/Global Environment Facility project to combat the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in the Philippines.

Two parrot experts, ornithologist Juan Carlos Gonzalez of the University of the Philippines Los Baños and biologist Peter Widmann from the Katala Foundation also shared their insights. 

PH as a biodiversity and IWT hotspot

The country served as an illegal transshipment point for elephant ivory, as a source country of wildlife and wildlife byproducts, such as pangolins and marine turtles, as well as a destination of trades, such as parrots kept as pets. 

"People know that wildlife play an important role in balancing the environment, but their economic value has never been taken seriously," DENR-BMB Wildlife Resources Division OIC Theresa Tenazas said in a statement.

"This study can finally give our enforcers, law practitioners, prosecutors and judges the correct  valuation of wildlife – preventing the dismissal of wildlife cases because of the inability to establish their economic value, an argument often used by offenders to escape conviction," she added.

DENR-ADB/GEF is pushing for stronger legal reforms against IWT, enhanced capacity-building for law enforcers, as well as demand reduction measures targeting consumers, particularly on marine turtles and blue-naped parrots.

"Biology, conservation science and economics must be meshed together to defeat the illegal wildlife trade and we are glad to see that the Philippines is taking a leading role in this," ADB environmental specialist Dr. Francesco Ricciardi said.