Should wildlife film-makers pay for ecosystem services?
Friday 9 December 2011
Media corporations that make and broadcast wildlife films should pay towards the cost of nature conservation, propose researchers from the Zoological Society of London, Oxford University and Oxfam in a paper published in Science.
The researchers argue that following two recent major government reports that put a value on the services that nature provides, global media companies that make money from wildlife programmes and films should pay for the service in the same way as water and energy companies have started to do.
There has already been a major shift in policy to find mechanisms that enable companies that profit from the ecosystem service to pay for their protection or restoration. Water and energy companies are already entering agreements to provide PES (Payments for Ecosystem Services).
The researchers argue that the media industry is another clear and obvious beneficiary of the services produced by ecosystems. They argue that under this innovative mechanism long-term, sustainable funding could be released for nature conservation.
Dr Paul Jepson lead author from the University of Oxford says: “Our aim is to start a conversation. We all love wildlife films and want to secure the fabulous environments where they are filmed for generations to come. My hope is that filmmakers, broadcasters, academics and conservation professionals can come together to create innovative ways through which the wildlife media can pay for conservation.’
The media industry currently makes financial contributions in the form of filming fees or donations made through philanthropic foundations. The researchers describe such contributions as ‘comparatively modest’ and ad hoc. They suggest that as they are inconsistently applied, they do not provide a much-needed guaranteed funding stream.
Co-author Dr Kate Jones from ZSL says: “Overseas conservation groups need to be able to plan for the long term, and to do this they have to receive sustainable funding. Instead, they are currently relying on fairly modest amounts of money on an ad-hoc basis. Finance linked directly to the markets, or mechanisms such as the now ceased BBC Wildlife Fund, would provide a guaranteed revenue stream.”