Emerging approaches for conservation financing

Date: May 3, 2022

Press Review: Conservation Finance

With so much money poured into conservation efforts, it’s critical to know which approaches actually work. A new study published in Current Biology analysed the effectiveness of Orangutan conservation over the past 20 years, and found that some investments yield much greater returns than others.

© Daniel Rosengren

Systematically evaluating conservation strategies is no easy feat. Conservation work spans so many contexts and environments, and no two ecosystems are the same. While the research team clearly had their work cut out for them in attempting to model such a complex issue, they did manage to deduce a winner. When it comes to financing conservation, protection and management of habitats seemed to be the most effective strategy.

According to the study, orangutans were most likely to be present in an area when money had been spent on habitat protection. Second to habitat protection was patrolling and law enforcement, with other strategies such as habitat restoration, rescue and rehabilitation, and translocations lagging behind.

While the paper only examines the case of one species, the new research is a welcome addition to the growing literature on conservation financing and impact. The more we know about what works and what doesn’t, the better we can protect biodiversity. A fuller synopsis of the study can be read over on Mongabay.

Meanwhile, in a recent feature published by Geographische Rundschau, authors Christof Schenck and Manuel Engelbauer paint a vivid picture of the staggering biodiversity and rich human culture found across Amazonia, while exploring the role of novel financing instruments such as Legacy Landscapes Fund in protecting these areas.

As deforestation and climate change rage on, the Amazon is hurtling towards a dangerous tipping point. The fact that most of the world’s biodiversity is found in a relatively small number of places can scarcely be illustrated by anywhere better than the Amazon, home to over three million species.

© Daniel Rosengren

As authors Schenck and Engelbauer argue, conservation does cost money. But in the long run, the return on investment is vast: when we protect these areas, we stabilize the climate, preserve natural water sources, safeguard biodiversity and avoid pandemics.

When the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, together with KfW Development Bank, established Legacy Landscapes Fund with the support of Frankfurt Zoological Society and many other NGOs, the goal was to secure long-term, basic funding for protected areas that need it most.

Such new approaches to conservation finance, along with other efforts such as environmental education and community participation, will be key to fighting the triple threat of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pandemics.

The full article can be accessed in German through Geographische Rundschau.

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