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. Conservation economics can help illustrate the costs and benefits associated with interaction with the natural world.
EPIC scholars are advancing conservation economics research —from exploring the social costs of biodiversity losses to evaluating whether conservation efforts are working, and if so, at what economic cost. For example, one project explores the impact of pesticides on human health, and specifically on infant mortality. 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. They are studying how the loss of animal species may affect human societies. One study, for example, finds human mortality rates in India increased with the decline of vulture populations. Other projects explore the impact of land and endangered species protection policies on home prices and on employment in land-reliant industries.