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Shortfalls in conservation evidence: moving from ecological effects of interventions to policy evaluation


Adams, VM and Barnes, M and Pressey, RL, Shortfalls in conservation evidence: moving from ecological effects of interventions to policy evaluation, One Earth, 1, (1) pp. 62-75. ISSN 2590-3322 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2019 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.oneear.2019.08.017


Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in natural environments requires careful management choices. However, common methods of evaluating the impact of conservation interventions can have contextual shortcomings. Here, we make a call for counterfactual thinking - asking the question "what would have happened in the absence of an intervention?" - with the support of rigorous evaluation approaches and more thoughtful consideration of human dimensions and behavior. We review and contrast different evaluation approaches and highlight the advantages of counterfactual approaches over alternative methods. We also illustrate how even robust estimates of ecological impact can fail to estimate the impact of specific policy interventions. The latter depend importantly on human preferences and responses to regulations and incentives that cannot be captured by studies of ecological impact. We propose specific and practical steps that all evaluations can implement now to immediately improve their credibility and accountability.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:impact evaluation, conservation evidence, counterfactual thinking, quasi-experimental evaluation, policy evaluation, quasi experimental methods
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental policy, legislation and standards not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Adams, VM (Associate Professor Vanessa Adams)
ID Code:135132
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:24
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2019-10-01
Last Modified:2020-05-19

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