Protecting Biodiversity When Money Matters: Maximizing Return on Investment.

TitleProtecting Biodiversity When Money Matters: Maximizing Return on Investment.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Underwood EC, Shaw MR, Wilson KA, Kareiva P, Klausmeyer KA, McBride MF, Bode M, Morrison SA, Hoekstra JM, Possingham HP
Year of Publication2008

Conventional wisdom identifies biodiversity hotspots as priorities for conservation investment because they capture dense concentrations of species. However, density of species does not necessarily imply conservation ‘efficiency’. Here we explicitly consider conservation efficiency in terms of species protected per dollar invested.
We apply a dynamic return on investment approach to a global biome and compare it with three alternate priority setting approaches and a random allocation of funding. After twenty years of acquiring habitat, the return on investment approach protects between 32% and 69% more species compared to the other priority setting approaches. To correct for potential inefficiencies of protecting the same species multiple times we account for the complementarity of species, protecting up to three times more distinct vertebrate species than alternate approaches. Incorporating costs in a return on investment framework expands priorities to include areas not traditionally highlighted as priorities based on conventional irreplaceability and vulnerability approaches.

JournalPLoS One
Journal Datein press
Keywordsconservation planning, decision theory, mediterranean biome, priority setting, resource allocation
Citation Key422
Reprint Editione1515