The intrinsic value of Amazon biodiversity


The intrinsic value of Amazon biodiversity is a key to maintaining Amazonian ecosystems with all of their environmental functions, despite this aspect commonly being ignored or downplayed in both scientific and policy discussions. Although the Amazon forest’s role in climate regulation often takes center stage in arguments for containing deforestation, it is biodiversity that has justified the region’s existing protected areas. The will to take effective measures to contain forest loss derives largely from the intrinsic or existence value of this diversity, rather than from its utilitarian value. This applies both at the national level in Amazonian countries such as Brazil and to international actors such as governments, companies, non-governmental organizations and individuals. The rapidly deteriorating environmental situation in Amazonia shows the inadequacy of the arguments that have been used to justify actions to reverse this deterioration. The intrinsic value of Amazonia’s biodiversity should not be left as an unmentioned “elephant in the room” in these discussions, but instead should be openly recognized as a central issue.

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The author thanks Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) Proc. 311103/2015-4.


Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq).

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Correspondence to Philip M. Fearnside.

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This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Biodiversity appreciation and engagement.

Communicated by Pedro V. Eisenlohr.

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Fearnside, P.M. The intrinsic value of Amazon biodiversity. Biodivers Conserv (2021).

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  • Existence value
  • Brazil
  • Amazonia
  • Tropical forest
  • Rainforest
  • Threatened species