SFU biological sciences professor Arne Mooers is a member of an international team that revealed conservation efforts actually work.

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Conservation actually works

October 25, 2017
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By Wan Yee Lok

Do countries that invest more on conservation actually achieve better results?

SFU biological sciences Arne Mooers is a member of an international research team that released a study today in Nature confirming that countries that spend more money on conservation had less of their biodiversity subsequently threatened with extinction. They also found countries that spent less saw more of their biodiversity inch towards oblivion. 

The researchers from Canada, the U.S and the United Kingdom took seven years to compile and analyze a dataset that tracked $3 billion in annual conservation expenditures by 192 countries.

With the help of the dataset, they developed a model that can predict where expenditures can best protect biodiversity. Decision-makers can now forecast what conservation spending will achieve under various country-specific growth and development scenarios.

This is a map of recent bird and mammal biodiversity declines attributed to country: blue denotes improvements, grey denotes no change or no data, and warmer colours depict increasing deterioration. The lion’s share of decline is attributed to Indonesia (dark red), Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, China, USA (mainly in Hawai’i) and Australia (depicted in red). 

“One of our most interesting findings is that the same amount of money goes further in poorer countries than in richer countries,” says Mooers.

“This may be because many species have already been lost in the richer countries, making conservation spending actually less effective.”

The study also found that fast economic growth negatively impacts conservation spending.

“This suggests economic development overrides conservation in rapidly-developing countries,” says Mooers. “

He says governments should double-down on conservation in those countries, like Indonesia, in order to achieve a win-win outcome.