When Wall Street saw around $1-$1.5 trillion dollars go up in smoke from the financial sector, the world rightfully freaked the hell out.

Meanwhile, the world is burning up between $2 trillion and $5 trillion of capital a year through global forest loss. That’s the cumulative value of the lost services forests provide, including carbon sequestration, water filtration, and erosion prevention.

This analysis comes out of The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity (TEEB), a comprehensive U.N.-commissioned study along the lines of the IPCC for climate. It recently issued its interim report [PDF], building on the work of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Here’s what’s next:

The second, more substantial, phase of the study will run into 2009 and 2010. The project is structured around one background report and several reports targeted towards specific groups of potential users of evaluation tools for biodiversity and ecosystem services. These reports will be compiled in a phased approach and published consecutively between autumn 2009 and autumn 2010. The final results will be presented at CBD COP-10 in 2010.

Could this have the same galvanizing effect on the global biodiversity debate that the IPCC had on the climate debate? Let’s hope. It would kind of suck if humanity killed off the majority of the world’s living creatures.