Evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of biodiversity conservation spending
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.
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