El precio de salvar un árbol

América Latina cuenta con una proporción más que importante de vida silvestre y bosques de todo tipo. Un tercio de las especies de mamíferos y más de un cuarto de todas las especies de aves y reptiles conocidas se pueden encontrar allí. Sin embargo, esta abundancia está en peligro. Al hacer desaparecer más de siete millones de hectáreas de árboles por año, Sudamérica elimina más bosques que ningún otro continente. Como resultado, más de 10 000 especies están en peligro de extinción, dos tercios de todas las especies en peligro del planeta.

En cierto sentido, la solución a este reto es clara como el día. Los propietarios de tierras eliminan árboles porque es lo que les reporta más beneficios económicos, de manera que las autoridades deben darles incentivos para que no lo hagan. Si pudiéramos aprovechar el potencial oculto de los bosques de América Latina –sin destruirlos- podríamos dar una solución al problema de la destrucción de hábitats.

Podemos calcular fácilmente los costes de iniciativas conservacionistas individuales como el salvar la lechuza moteada del norte. Más difícil es calcular cuánto costaría hacer que los dueños de tierras dejen de talar sus árboles, pero eso no significa que no se haya intentado. Las estimaciones de los economistas varían de US$ 1,23 mil millones al año (para salvar árboles en los lugares con mayor diversidad de América Latina) a US$ 5,8 mil millones al año (para salvar un 2% del área terrestre del continente), e incluso a US$ 500 mil millones (hacer un solo pago para salvar todos los bosques de América Latina).

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