Pulling giant pandas back from the brink of extinction has been time- and cost-intensive, so much so that even some conservationists question whether the cost outweighs the benefits. But a new study published in Current Biology puts those concerns to rest. It finds that protecting pandas’ habitats helps other species survive, boosts soil fertility, and pays off economically. Mother Jones has the story:

Believe it or not, there’s a battle happening among conservationists over the Giant Panda. Though an undoubtedly iconic species for environmentalists—and the highly recognizable symbol of the World Wildlife Fund for half a century—some argue that all the dollars funneling into panda conservation are, simply put, not worth it. With fewer than 2,000 pandas left in the wild, some experts have called for the panda to be left to die out, while others have argued that preserving the species, and its image, will help fuel conservation efforts across the board.

Now, a new study led by a group of Chinese researchers proves the haters wrong. Panda conservation has huge benefits, the group found, beyond just saving pandas themselves. Their research was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

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Conservationists, take note: This research proves that saving one species can set off a positive chain reaction for both the local ecosystem and the economy. If we rally around endangered Western species, like the Lange’s metalmark butterfly or the San Joaquin kit fox, it could revitalize the whole region.