Biodiversity Conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Prioritizing Policies (Hardback) book cover

Biodiversity Conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Prioritizing Policies

By Allen Blackman, Rebecca Epanchin-Niell, Juha Siikamäki, Daniel Velez-Lopez

© 2014 – Routledge

180 pages | 9 Color Illus. | 2 B/W Illus.

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Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is exceptionally biodiverse. It contains about half of the world’s remaining tropical forests, nearly one-fifth of its coastal habitats, and some of its most productive agricultural and marine areas. But agriculture, fishing and other human activities linked to rapid population and economic growth increasingly threaten that biodiversity. Moreover, poverty, weak regulatory capacity, and limited political will hamper conservation.

Given this dilemma, it is critically important to design conservation strategies on the basis of the best available information about both biodiversity and the track records of the various policies that have been used to protect it. This rigorously researched book has three key aims. It describes the status of biodiversity in LAC, the main threats to this biodiversity, and the drivers of these threats. It identifies the main policies being used to conserve biodiversity and assesses their effectiveness and potential for further implementation.

It proposes five specific lines of practical action for conserving LAC biodiversity, based on: green agriculture; strengthening terrestrial protected areas and co-management; improving environmental governance; strengthening coastal and marine resource management; and improving biodiversity data and policy evaluation.


"At last: the handbook on biodiversity conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean we all have needed… with all the considerations necessary for best practice choices… a revolutionary contribution."Tom Lovejoy, University Professor, George Mason University and Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation.

"A great addition to literature, this book starts by describing LAC biodiversity’s status and progresses to a critical study of the main conservation policies. It is here that the book excels becoming a fascinating read for those involved in the field and a compulsory one from the management and education perspective." – Francisco Alpízar, Founder, Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Economics Program (LACEEP) , Director, Economics and Environment for Development (EfD-CATIE) and Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg.

"This book has been instrumental in setting new directions for conservation investments at the Interamerican Development Bank and provides the foundation for more effective policy in the future." – Michele Lemay, Natural Resources Lead Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank.

"This book provides a wealth of data and information, a clear-eyed assessment of the challenges to biodiversity conservation in the region, and a valuable framework for prioritizing policies. It makes it clear that mainstreaming biodiversity will require a continuous and coherent process in which early and well planned commitments will reduce overall costs." – Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Vice President, Conservation International and Former Minister of Environment, Costa Rica.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Status and Trends

2.1. Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecosystems

2.2. Marine and Coastal Ecosystems

3. Policies

A. Regulation and Co-management

3.1. Terrestrial Protected Areas

3.2. Forest Co-Management

3.3. Land Use Planning

3.4. Fisheries Management

3.5. Wastewater Treatment

3.6. Governance

B. Market-based Approaches

3.7. Subsidy Reform

3.8. Payments for Environmental Services

3.9. Ecocertification

3.10. Ecotourism

3.11. Bioprospecting

3.12. Mitigation Offsets and Banking

C. Other

3.13. National Environmental Accounting

3.14. Corporate Social Responsibility

3.15. Greening Agriculture

3.16. Targeting, Data, and Evaluation

3.17. REDD

4. Lines of Action

4.1. Greening Agriculture

4.2. Strengthen Terrestrial Protected Areas and Co-management

4.3. Improve Environmental Governance

4.4. Strengthen Coastal and Marine Resource Management

4.5. Improve Biodiversity Data and Policy Evaluation

5. LAC Biodiversity Actors

About the Authors

Allen Blackman is Thomas Klutznick Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Texas, Austin and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on environmental and natural resource policy in Latin America.

Rebecca Epanchin-Niell is a Fellow at Resources for the Future. She received a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Davis, M.S. degrees in Biology and Applied Economics from University of Nevada, Reno, and a B.S. from Stanford University. Her research tackles issues at the intersection of ecology and economics.

Juha Siikamäki is Associate Research Director and Fellow at Resources for the Future. He has a Ph.D. from University of California, Davis in Environmental Policy Analysis. His research focuses on economic analyses of ecosystem services and biodiversity, especially economic valuation and conservation prioritization.

Daniel Velez-Lopez is a PhD student in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former Research Assistant at Resources for the Future. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Maryland. His research focuses on environmental policy and political economy in developing countries.

About the Series

Environment for Development

The Environment for Development (EfD) initiative ( supports poverty alleviation and sustainable development through the increased use of environmental economics in the policymaking process. EfD identifies the environment as an important resource for development rather than a constraint. The EfD initiative is a capacity-building program in environmental economics focusing on research, policy advice, and teaching in Central America, Chile, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa Tanzania, USA and Sweden. The nine EfD centers are hosted by leading universities or academic institutions in respective country/region.

The EfD is initiated and managed by the Environmental Economics Unit, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The core funding for the EfD initiative is provided by Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency).

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection