Economic activity can impose significant costs on the natural world. From built infrastructure to wildlife trade and trafficking, the damaging effects of human activity are well known. As society has become more aware of these costs, however, people have worked hard to mitigate and reverse them. In the process, they have found that healthy ecosystems have substantial economic benefits as well. Economics can help illustrate the costs and benefits associated with interaction with the natural world.

EPIC scholars are advancing knowledge on this front—from exploring the social costs of biodiversity losses to evaluating whether conservation efforts are working, and if so, at what economic cost. Another important dimension of this work addresses the protection of endangered species. EPIC researchers are exploring how market dynamics reduce natural habitats and lead to declining wildlife population levels, and studying how the loss of animal species may affect human societies.