The spectrum of arguments found in a literature review

The following overview represents the spectrum of arguments for biodiversity collected through an extensive review of grey (including web content) and scientific literature as well as policy texts. While the review had the capacity to identify arguments against biodiversity (i.e. a negative stance), all items in the review database relate to arguments for biodiversity (i.e. a positive stance).

Type Explanation / clarification
1.         Recognising rights / values of nature itself, for itself. Arguments where humans argue that values exist independent of humans.
2.         Ethical, moral and religious views providing obligations to nature. A requirement upon humans to look after the natural world.
3.         Evolutionary processes should not be disrupted / gene pool pollution. As a process evolution is something to be safeguarded and not interfered with
4.         Ecosystem function / resilience – purpose unclear. Required for, or beneficial to, the physical, biological and chemical processes that occur in nature. Not clear if this is for the ultimate benefit of nature or humans.
5.         Ecosystem function / resilience – anthropocentric. Required for, or beneficial to, the physical, biological and chemical processes that occur in nature. Author expresses that this is with a view to human dependence on, or benefit from, ecosystems.
6.         Ecosystem services (flows leading to benefits). General reference to environmental goods and services and functions of nature that contribute to human welfare.
7.         Specific regulating and supporting services other than climate regulation. Reference to services and functions of nature that are regulating or supporting as defined in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.  Examples: pollination, pest control, seed dispersal.
8.         Climate regulation service and/or carbon sequestration. Reference to ways in which biodiversity influences green house gas emissions, sequestration of carbon, or reduction in the rate of human-mediated climate change.
9.         Protection against invasive species / diseases in non-human life forms. Ways in which certain components of biodiversity, however it may be defined, afford protection against species that may not be considered desirable from a human point of view.
10.     Social / cultural / heritage / collective well being and welfare. Bestowing benefits that are realised/understood primarily within groups of people (communities, countries etc).
11.     Psychological / spiritual / individual well being. Bestowing benefits that are realised/understood primarily at the level of individuals.
12.     Recreation / tourism. Enabling or improving experiences that people do not associate with work. Includes recreational opportunities in daily life, as well as travel to see new places. Primarily about the recreation opportunity rather than the economic benefit.
13.     Human health / reduction in disease risk. Improving human health, reducing the risk of ill health. Distinguished from measures of well being that would traditionally not be addressed by mainstream health professions.
14.     Aesthetic value. Providing visual appeal or experience as an end point in its own right, regardless of its effect on wider psychological, spiritual or human well being.
15.     Biophilia – the desire for relationship and contact with nature. Reference to the well being benefits associated with human direct interaction with other species or landscapes or other components of nature, over and above purely visual appeal, or indirect benefits.
16.     Intellectual stimulus, education beyond protection of biodiversity. Providing opportunities for education and human cognitive/intellectual advancement (over and above any benefits on individual well being). Includes art, design, science, innovation and engineering.
17.     Productivity in forestry / agriculture / fisheries / food security. Reference to increased yield or reduced risks in the agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fishing at whatever scale.
18.     Other industrial dependence. Biodiversity providing specific inputs into industry, other than bioprospecting or forestry / agriculture / fisheries / food security.
19.     Business risk. Reducing risks to business performance, whether this is through natural hazards. Excludes reputational benefits (separate premise statement).
20.     Water security. Providing benefits in terms of water supply and quality. Reducing the risk of failure to meet needs for clean water. Includes reduction in water treatment costs.
21.     Energy security. Providing benefits in terms of the availability of fuel.
22.     Economic. Explicit reference to micro or macroeconomic benefits. May apply to individuals, organisations or national economies.
23.     Bioprospecting. Ways in which nature gives rise to substances that have medicinal properties of benefit to humans. Includes the presence of genetic code that can be exploited for the production of these substances, or other healthcare innovations.
24.     Precaution / risk management (current generation / Century). Reducing the risk of harm caused by hazards over the next 50-100 years. Includes specific hazards or may be unspecified.
25.     Precaution (future generations) and option value. Reducing the risk of harm caused by hazards at points in the future that are not defined. Providing benefits, whatever they may be, for the future, which would be compromised if exploited now.
26.     Employment and livelihoods. Specific reference to employment or other opportunities for income that result from the presence of biodiversity. These relate to the employment and livelihoods as a social goal beyond the economic and other benefits associated with this.
27.     Sustainable development / poverty alleviation / future generations. Relating to principles of sustainable development, the global goal of reducing poverty. Arguments relating to the rights or needs of future generations.
28.     Moral, ethical or religious belief related to obligations to other people. Arguments relating to fair share of natural resources available at present, or in the next 50-100 years. Includes the notions of justice and equal sharing.
29.     Legal compliance / political necessity. Conformity with norms and rules to protect biodiversity is an end in its own right (regardless of broader arguments for biodiversity).
30.     Reputational benefits. Association with conservation or restoration of biodiversity provides indirect benefits that enhance the status or perception of an individual or organisation being ‘good’.
31.     Species conservation matters (underlying reason not mentioned). Statements that suggest that species should be conserved, regardless of any instrumental or non-instrumental value they may have.