Positive Biodiversity–Productivity Relationship Predominant in Global Forests
The biodiversity–productivity relationship (BPR) is foundational to our understanding of the global extinction crisis and its impacts on ecosystem functioning. Understanding BPR is critical for the accurate valuation and effective conservation of biodiversity. Using ground-sourced data from 777,126 permanent plots, spanning 44 countries and most terrestrial biomes, we reveal a globally consistent positive concave-down BPR, whereby a continued biodiversity loss would result in an accelerating decline in forest productivity worldwide. The value of biodiversity in maintaining commercial forest productivity alone—US$166–490 billion per year according to our estimation—is by itself over two to six times the total estimated cost that would be necessary for effective global conservation. This highlights the need for a worldwide re-assessment of biodiversity values, forest management strategies, and conservation priorities.
Forest value: More than commercial—Response
From a policy/management perspective, the positive biodiversity-productivity relationship across the world’s forests helps justify rewarding landowners for preserving or enhancing the diversity of their native or planted forests. Establishing the underlying biophysical relationship between species richness and productivity, and translating that into economic terms, reveals where markets fail to fully capture the true long-term economic value of forests, as opposed to the short-term commercial value, and thus where conservation attention is most needed.