Cheap and nasty? The potential perils of using management costs to identify global conservation priorities
McCreless, E and Visconti, P and Carwardine, J and Wilcox, C and Smith, RJ, Cheap and nasty? The potential perils of using management costs to identify global conservation priorities, PLoS ONE, 8, (11) Article e80893. ISSN 1932-6203 (2013) [Refereed Article]
The financial cost of biodiversity conservation varies widely around the world and such costs should be considered when identifying countries to best focus conservation investments. Previous global prioritizations have been based on global models for protected area management costs, but this metric may be related to other factors that negatively influence the effectiveness and social impacts of conservation. Here we investigate such relationships and first show that countries with low predicted costs are less politically stable. Local support and capacity can mitigate the impacts of such instability, but we also found that these countries have less civil society involvement in conservation. Therefore, externally funded projects in these countries must rely on government agencies for implementation. This can be problematic, as our analyses show that governments in countries with low predicted costs score poorly on indices of corruption, bureaucratic quality and human rights. Taken together, our results demonstrate that using national-level estimates for protected area management costs to set global conservation priorities is simplistic, as projects in apparently low-cost countries are less likely to succeed and more likely to have negative impacts on people. We identify the need for an improved approach to develop global conservation cost metrics that better capture the true costs of avoiding or overcoming such problems. Critically, conservation scientists must engage with practitioners to better understand and implement context-specific solutions. This approach assumes that measures of conservation costs, like measures of conservation value, are organization specific, and would bring a much-needed focus on reducing the negative impacts of conservation to develop projects that benefit people and biodiversity.
biodiversity, cost benefit analysis, developed country, developing country, economics, environmental protection, human, human rights abuse, investment, organization and management, politics, procedures, statistical model