How much does it cost to save a species from extinction? Costs and rewards of conserving the Lear's macaw.
ABSTRACT: Although the limited resources available to save species from extinction necessitate the optimization of conservation actions, little is known about their costs and effectiveness. We developed a costs-rewards framework that integrates information on which sectors of society contribute to funding conservation, how much is contributed, how funds are distributed among conservation targets and how these investments drive not only conservation rewards but also the economic and ecosystem services that benefit society. We applied this framework to the Lear's macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), a species discovered in the wild in 1978 with only 60 individuals. Funds invested over the last 25 years reached US$3.66 million. The contribution of governments, non-governmental organizations and private funders varied over time, as did the funding targets. Funds were proportionally invested to mitigate the main causes of mortality, while no funds were devoted to protecting foraging habitats. Conservation rewards were satisfactory, with the cost and time needed to downlist the species from critically endangered to endangered being similar to those invested in other bird species. However, economic rewards (through ecotourism and handicrafts linked to the conservation of the species) were low and require promotion, while ecosystem services provided by Lear's macaws have yet to be quantified.
Project description:Over 1,000 mammal species are red-listed by IUCN, as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. Conservation of many threatened mammal species, even inside protected areas, depends on costly active day-to-day defence against poaching, bushmeat hunting, invasive species and habitat encroachment. Many parks agencies worldwide now rely heavily on tourism for routine operational funding: >50% in some cases. This puts rare mammals at a new risk, from downturns in tourism driven by external socioeconomic factors. Using the survival of individual animals as a metric or currency of successful conservation, we calculate here what proportions of remaining populations of IUCN-redlisted mammal species are currently supported by funds from tourism. This proportion is ? 5% for over half of the species where relevant data exist, ? 15% for one fifth, and up to 66% in a few cases. Many of these species, especially the most endangered, survive only in one single remaining subpopulation. These proportions are not correlated either with global population sizes or recognition as wildlife tourism icons. Most of the more heavily tourism-dependent species, however, are medium sized (>7.5 kg) or larger. Historically, biological concern over the growth of tourism in protected areas has centered on direct disturbance to wildlife. These results show that conservation of threatened mammal species has become reliant on revenue from tourism to a previously unsuspected degree. On the one hand, this provides new opportunities for conservation funding; but on the other, dependence on such an uncertain source of funding is a new, large and growing threat to red-listed species.
Project description:Listing endangered and threatened species under the US Endangered Species Act is presumed to offer a defense against extinction and a solution to achieve recovery of imperiled populations, but only if effective conservation action ensues after listing occurs. The amount of government funding available for species protection and recovery is one of the best predictors of successful recovery; however, government spending is both insufficient and highly disproportionate among groups of species, and there is significant discrepancy between proposed and actualized budgets across species. In light of an increasing list of imperiled species requiring evaluation and protection, an explicit approach to allocating recovery funds is urgently needed. Here I provide a formal decision-theoretic approach focusing on return on investment as an objective and a transparent mechanism to achieve the desired recovery goals. I found that less than 25% of the $1.21 billion/year needed for implementing recovery plans for 1,125 species is actually allocated to recovery. Spending in excess of the recommended recovery budget does not necessarily translate into better conservation outcomes. Rather, elimination of only the budget surplus for "costly yet futile" recovery plans can provide sufficient funding to erase funding deficits for more than 180 species. Triage by budget compression provides better funding for a larger sample of species, and a larger sample of adequately funded recovery plans should produce better outcomes even if by chance. Sharpening our focus on deliberate decision making offers the potential to achieve desired outcomes in avoiding extinction for Endangered Species Act-listed species.
Project description:Human actions have led to loss and degradation of wetlands, impairing their suitability as habitat especially for waterbirds. Such negative effects may be mitigated through habitat management. To date scientific evidence regarding the impacts of these actions remains scarce. We studied guild specific abundances of breeding and staging birds in response to habitat management on 15 Finnish wetlands. In this study management actions comprised several means of vegetation removal to thwart overgrowth. Management cost efficiency was assessed by examining the association between site-specific costs and bird abundances. Several bird guilds exhibited positive connections with both habitat management as well as with invested funds. Most importantly, however, red-listed species and species with special conservation concern as outlined by the EU showed positive correlations with management actions, underlining the conservation value of wetland management. The results suggest that grazing was especially efficient in restoring overgrown wetlands. As a whole this study makes it clear that wetland habitat management constitutes a feasible conservation tool. The marked association between invested funds and bird abundance may prove to be a valuable tool for decision makers when balancing costs and impact of conservation measures against one another.
Project description:Conservation strategies based on charismatic flagship species, such as tigers, lions, and elephants, successfully attract funding from individuals and corporate donors. However, critics of this species-focused approach argue it wastes resources and often does not benefit broader biodiversity. If true, then the best way of raising conservation funds excludes the best way of spending it. Here we show that this conundrum can be resolved, and that the flagship species approach does not impede cost-effective conservation. Through a tailored prioritization approach, we identify places containing flagship species while also maximizing global biodiversity representation (based on 19,616 terrestrial and freshwater species). We then compare these results to scenarios that only maximized biodiversity representation, and demonstrate that our flagship-based approach achieves 79-89% of our objective. This provides strong evidence that prudently selected flagships can both raise funds for conservation and help target where these resources are best spent to conserve biodiversity.
Project description:Incorporating the values of the services that ecosystems provide into decision making is becoming increasingly common in nature conservation and resource management policies, both locally and globally. Yet with limited funds for conservation of threatened species and ecosystems there is a desire to identify priority areas where investment efficiently conserves multiple ecosystem services. We mapped four mangrove ecosystems services (coastal protection, fisheries, biodiversity, and carbon storage) across Fiji. Using a cost-effectiveness analysis, we prioritised mangrove areas for each service, where the effectiveness was a function of the benefits provided to the local communities, and the costs were associated with restricting specific uses of mangroves. We demonstrate that, although priority mangrove areas (top 20%) for each service can be managed at relatively low opportunity costs (ranging from 4.5 to 11.3% of overall opportunity costs), prioritising for a single service yields relatively low co-benefits due to limited geographical overlap with priority areas for other services. None-the-less, prioritisation of mangrove areas provides greater overlap of benefits than if sites were selected randomly for most ecosystem services. We discuss deficiencies in the mapping of ecosystems services in data poor regions and how this may impact upon the equity of managing mangroves for particular services across the urban-rural divide in developing countries. Finally we discuss how our maps may aid decision-makers to direct funding for mangrove management from various sources to localities that best meet funding objectives, as well as how this knowledge can aid in creating a national mangrove zoning scheme.
Project description:Despite ambitious biodiversity policy goals, less than a fifth of the European Union's (EU) legally protected species and habitats show a favorable conservation status. The recent EU biodiversity strategy recognizes that climate change adds to the challenge of halting biodiversity loss, and that an optimal distribution of financial resources is needed. Here, we analyze recent EU biodiversity funding from a climate change perspective. We compare the allocation of funds to the distribution of both current conservation priorities (within and beyond Natura 2000) and future conservation needs at the level of NUTS-2 regions, using modelled bird distributions as indicators of conservation value. We find that funding is reasonably well aligned with current conservation efforts but poorly fit with future needs under climate change, indicating obstacles for implementing adaptation measures. We suggest revising EU biodiversity funding instruments for the 2014-2020 budget period to better account for potential climate change impacts on biodiversity.
Project description:International policy is placing increasing emphasis on adaptation to climate change, including the allocation of new funds to assist adaptation efforts. Climate change adaptation funding may be most effective where it meets integrated goals, but global geographic priorities based on multiple development and ecological criteria are not well characterized. Here we show that human and natural adaptation needs related to maintaining agricultural productivity and ecosystem integrity intersect in ten major areas globally, providing a coherent set of international priorities for adaptation funding. An additional seven regional areas are identified as worthy of additional study. The priority areas are locations where changes in crop suitability affecting impoverished farmers intersect with changes in ranges of restricted-range species. Agreement among multiple climate models and emissions scenarios suggests that these priorities are robust. Adaptation funding directed to these areas could simultaneously address multiple international policy goals, including poverty reduction, protecting agricultural production and safeguarding ecosystem services.
Project description:Ecological compensation is a crucial policy instrument that realigns the benefits of stakeholders to the ecosystem service provision. However, the spatial disconnections between locations where ecosystem services produced and used are common. The supply and demand for ecosystem services are calculated to reflect the status of the districts or counties based on ecosystem service flows. The replacement cost methods provide necessary technical supports for the calculation of compensation funds. The realigning of compensation funds between service-benefiting areas and service-providing areas not only identifies the beneficiaries and suppliers but also realizes the connection between them, which may be a feasible methodology. Fuzhou City is the study area, and two ecosystem services of water conservation and soil retention were taken into consideration. The prioritized development zone, Linchuan, and the key agricultural production zones paid ecological compensation funds. Linchuan paid the highest, 5.76 billion yuan. The key ecological function zones and the key agricultural production zones received the ecological compensation funds, of which Yihuang obtained the highest, 1.66 billion yuan. The realigning of compensation funds between the service benefiting and providing areas addresses the trade-offs between ecosystem services, social development, and ecosystem protection. Embedding the ecosystem service flows into the ecological compensation mechanism can most truly realize the value of ecosystem services, achieve the "beneficiary pays" principle, and be conducive to regional sustainable development.
Project description:Budgets for species conservation limit actions. Expending resources in areas of high human density is costly and generally considered less likely to succeed. Yet, coastal California contains both a large fraction of narrowly endemic at-risk plant species as well as the state's three largest metropolitan regions. Hence understanding the capacity to protect species along the highly urbanized coast is a conservation priority. We examine at-risk plant populations along California's coastline from San Diego to north of San Francisco to better understand whether there is a relationship between human population density and: i) performance of at-risk plant populations; and ii) conservation spending. Answering these questions can help focus appropriate strategic conservation investment. Rare plant performance was measured using the annualized growth rate estimate between census periods using the California Natural Diversity Database. Human density was estimated using Census Bureau statistics from the year 2000. We found strong evidence for a lack of a relationship between human population density and plant population performance in California's coastal counties. Analyzing US Endangered Species expenditure reports, we found large differences in expenditures among counties, with plants in San Diego County receiving much higher expenditures than other locations. We found a slight positive relationship between expenditures on behalf of endangered species and human density. Together these data support the argument that conservation efforts by protecting habitats within urban environments are not less likely to be successful than in rural areas. Expenditures on behalf of federally listed endangered and threatened plants do not appear to be related to proximity to human populations. Given the evidence of sufficient performance in urban environments, along with a high potential to leverage public support for nature in urban environments, expenditures in these areas appear to be an appropriate use of conservation funds.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Randomized clinical trials that have public health implications but no or low potential for commercial gain are predominantly funded by governmental (e.g., National Institutes of Health (NIH)) and not-for-profit organizations. Our objective was to develop an alternative clinical trial site funding model for judicious allocation of declining public research funds. METHODS:In the Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes (D2d) study, an NIH-supported, large clinical trial testing the effect of vitamin D supplementation on incident diabetes in 2423 participants at high risk for diabetes, a hybrid financial management model for supporting collaborating clinical sites was developed and applied. The funding model employed two reimbursement components: Core (for study start-up and partial efforts throughout the study, ~40% of the total site budget), invoiced by sites, and Performance-Based Payments (for successful enrollment of participants and completion of follow-up visits, ~60% of the total site budget), automatically issued to the sites by the Coordinating Center based on actual recruitment and visits conducted. Underperforming sites transitioned to Performance-Based Payments only. RESULTS:Recruitment occurred from October 2013 through December 2016, requiring one additional year than the 2-year projection. Median enrollment at each site was 88 participants (range 29-318; 20 to 205% of the site target). At the end of year 1, study-wide recruitment was at 12% of the target (vs. 50% projected) and 12% of the total grant award was invested. The model constantly evaluated sites' needs and re-allocated resources to meet the study enrollment goal. If D2d had issued cost reimbursement subaward agreements and sites invoiced for their entire budget, 83% of the award would have been spent for all study activities over the first 4 years of the trial compared to 65% of the award spent (US$26M) under the hybrid model used by D2d. CONCLUSIONS:It is feasible to foster a hybrid financial management approach to steward limited available public funds for research in a dynamic and consistent way that does not compromise the trial's scientific integrity and ensures conservation of funds to complete recruitment and continue to follow up participants.