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Evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of biodiversity conservation spending


  • Laycock, Helen F.
  • Moran, Dominic
  • Smart, James C.R.
  • Raffaelli, David G.
  • White, Piran C.L.


Evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency should be an integral component of biodiversity conservation strategies. We used Cost-Utility Analysis (CUA) and Threat Reduction Assessment (TRA) to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of individual Species Action Plans (SAPs) with regard to improving conservation status and reducing threats within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Spending was highly biassed towards vertebrates, in particular mammals and birds. Of 38 fully-costed SAPs, the top five most expensive SAPs accounted for almost 80% of the total money spent. Just over half of the SAPs studied had improved the conservation status of the species concerned, and one third of SAPs achieved at least a 50% reduction in threats. SAP cost was significantly positively related to improvement in conservation status but unrelated to threat reduction for that species. Effectiveness and efficiency were significantly correlated with one another in terms of threat reduction for different species, but there was no correlation between effectiveness and efficiency in terms of improving conservation status. Although conservation decisions should not be made solely on the outcome of such analyses, CUA and TRA can provide an important contribution to the evidence base to inform the development of more effective and efficient conservation strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Laycock, Helen F. & Moran, Dominic & Smart, James C.R. & Raffaelli, David G. & White, Piran C.L., 2011. "Evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of biodiversity conservation spending," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1789-1796, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:10:p:1789-1796

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nunes, Paulo A. L. D. & van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2001. "Economic valuation of biodiversity: sense or nonsense?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 203-222, November.
    2. Cullen, Ross & Moran, Emma & Hughey, Kenneth F.D., 2005. "Measuring the success and cost effectiveness of New Zealand multiple-species projects to the conservation of threatened species," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 311-323, May.
    3. Andrew Metrick & Martin L. Weitzman, 1996. "Patterns of Behavior in Endangered Species Preservation," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(1), pages 1-16.
    4. repec:eee:ecomod:v:205:y:2007:i:1:p:196-208 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Christie, Mike & Hanley, Nick & Warren, John & Murphy, Kevin & Wright, Robert & Hyde, Tony, 2006. "Valuing the diversity of biodiversity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 304-317, June.
    6. Gardner M. Brown & Jason F. Shogren, 1998. "Economics of the Endangered Species Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 3-20, Summer.
    7. Cullen, Ross & Fairburn, Geoffrey A. & Hughey, Kenneth F. D., 2001. "Measuring the productivity of threatened-species programs," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 53-66, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Doelle, Sebastian, 2012. "Evaluation of predator-proof fenced biodiversity projects," 2012 Conference (56th), February 7-10, 2012, Freemantle, Australia 124289, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    2. repec:eee:ecoser:v:20:y:2016:i:c:p:37-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. McVittie, Alistair & Austin, Zoe & White, Piran & Moxey, Andrew & McCracken, Davy & Moran, Dominic, 2014. "Something to grouse about? The cost-effectiveness of biodiversity measures in Scotland," 88th Annual Conference, April 9-11, 2014, AgroParisTech, Paris, France 169713, Agricultural Economics Society.


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