Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on natural resources for their livelihoods. For example, an estimated 250 million people in developing countries directly depend on small-scale fisheries for food and income.
Environmental goods and services
provided by natural habitats - like clean water
, fibres, building materials, medicines
, and energy - are also extremely important for meeting the subsistence needs of the world’s poorest people. In India alone, an estimated 50 million people are directly dependent on forests for their subsistence.
Well-managed protected areas have a clear role to play in protecting the species and ecosystems that support these livelihoods.
Protected areas can also sometimes bring alternative livelihood opportunities, for example through sustainable tourism or conservation work.
This can be especially important to poor rural and coastal communities with minimal options for formal employment. It can also be extremely cost effective. For example, maintenance of Costa Rica’s national parks costs about US$12 million each year; in 1991 these parks generated foreign exchange of more than US$330 million from some 500,000 overseas visitors.