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Cost Effective Conservation Planning: Twenty Lessons from Economics

Author

Listed:
  • Joshua M.Duke

    () (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Delaware)

  • Steven J. Dundas

    (Department of Economics, North Carolina State University)

  • Kent D. Messer

    () (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Delaware)

Abstract

Economists advocate that the billions of public dollars spent on conservation should be allocated to achieve the largest possible social benefit. This is what we term “cost-effective conservation”-- a process that incorporates both benefits and costs that are measured with money. This controversial proposition has been poorly understood and not implemented by conservation planners. Drawing from evidence from the largest conservation programs in the United States, this paper seeks to improve the communication between economists and planners and overcome resistance to cost-effective conservation by addressing the open questions that likely drive skepticism among non-economists and by identifying best practices for project selection. We first delineate project-selection strategies and compare them to optimization. Then we synthesize the body of established research findings from economics into 20 practical lessons. Based on theory, policy considerations, and empirical evidence, these lessons illustrate the potential gains from improving practices related to cost-effective selection and also address how to overcome landowner-incentive challenges that face programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua M.Duke & Steven J. Dundas & Kent D. Messer, 2012. "Cost Effective Conservation Planning: Twenty Lessons from Economics," Working Papers 12-01, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dlw:wpaper:12-01.
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    File URL: http://graduate.lerner.udel.edu/sites/default/files/ECON/PDFs/RePEc/dlw/WorkingPapers/2012/UD-WP-2012-01.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Duke, Joshua M. & Dundas, Steven J. & Johnston, Robert J. & Messer, Kent D., 2014. "Prioritizing payment for environmental services: Using nonmarket benefits and costs for optimal selection," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 319-329.
    2. Paul J. Burke, 2016. "Undermined by Adverse Selection: Australia's Direct Action Abatement Subsidies," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 35(3), pages 216-229, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    conservation planning; cost-effectiveness; nonmarket valuation; benefit cost targeting; optimization; prioritization;

    JEL classification:

    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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