Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
REVIEW

Assignment of measurable costs and benefits to wildlife conservation projects

S. A. Shwiff A E , A. Anderson A , R. Cullen B , P. C. L. White C and S. S. Shwiff D

A USDA APHIS WS, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA.

B Accounting, Economics and Finance Department, Room 202, Commerce Building, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Christchurch 7647, New Zealand.

C Environment Department, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK.

D Economics and Finance Department, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce, TX 75428, USA.

E Corresponding author. Email: Stephanie.a.shwiff@aphis.usda.gov

Wildlife Research 40(2) 134-141 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR12102
Submitted: 26 May 2012  Accepted: 7 November 2012   Published: 11 December 2012

Abstract

Success of wildlife conservation projects is determined by a suite of biological and economic factors. Donor and public understanding of the economic factors is becoming increasingly central to the longevity of funding for conservation efforts. Unlike typical economic evaluation, many costs and benefits related to conservation efforts are realised in non-monetary terms. We identify the types of benefits and costs that arise from conservation projects and examine several well developed techniques that economists use to convert benefits and costs into monetary values so they may be compared in a common metric. Costs are typically more readily identifiable than benefits, with financial project costs reported most frequently, and opportunity and damage costs reported much less often. Most current evaluation methods rely primarily on cost-effectiveness analysis rather than cost–benefit analysis, a result of the difficultly in measuring benefits. We highlight improved methodology to measure secondary costs and benefits on a broader spatial scale, thereby promoting project efficacy and long-term success. Estimation of the secondary effects can provide a means to engage a wider audience in discussions of wildlife conservation by illuminating the relevant impacts to income and employment in local economies.

Additional keywords: benefit-transfer, conservation planning, contingent valuation, cost-effectiveness, cost–benefit analysis, economic evaluation, human dimensions, modeling, regional economic analysis and travel cost method.


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