A UN backed study claim that spending to protect the environment can bring big returns to aid a worldwide assault on poverty. It said that every dollar spent on clean water and sanitation in the Third World, for instance, could bring $14 in benefits ranging from lower health care costs to higher work productivity and school attendance, and that conservation of habitats and ecosystems are also cost effective when compared with the short-term profits from environmentally damaging activities, including dynamite fishing, mining or deforestation. Every dollar invested in fighting land degradation and desertification, like building terraces to stop hillside erosion, could generate at least $3 in benefits, the Poverty Environment Partnership report estimated, and every dollar invested in protecting coral reefs could generate $5, ranging from scuba-diving tourism to renewable fish stocks.
Forests could play a role in slowing climate change because trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. "The carbon storage or 'sequestration' potential of forests ranges between $360 and $2,200 per hectare which makes them worth far more than if they are converted to grazing or cropland," UNEP said. The study said that it becomes far more cost effective to conserve forests than to clear them once carbon prices exceed $30 a ton