Opportunity costs: Who really pays for conservation?

Vanessa M. Adams*, Robert L. Pressey, Robin Naidoo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Designing conservation areas entails costs that, if considered explicitly, can be minimized while still achieving conservation targets. Here we focus on opportunity costs which measure forgone benefits from alternative land uses. Conservation planning studies often use partial estimates of costs, but the extent to which these result in actual efficiencies has not been demonstrated. Our study partitions land costs into three distinct opportunity costs to smallholder agriculture, soybean agriculture and ranching. We demonstrate that opportunity costs to single stakeholder groups can be inaccurate measures of true opportunity costs and can inadvertently shift conservation costs to affect groups of stakeholders disproportionately. Additionally, we examine how spatial correlations between costs as well as target size affect the performance of opportunity costs to single stakeholder groups as surrogate measures of true opportunity costs. We conclude that planning with opportunity costs to single stakeholder groups can result in cost burdens to other groups that could undermine the long-term success of conservation. Thus, an understanding of the spatial distributions of opportunity costs that are disaggregated to groups of stakeholders is necessary to make informed decisions about priority conservation areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-448
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume143
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • agricultural conversion
  • conservation planning
  • developing country
  • opportunity costs
  • reserve-selection
  • trade-offs

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Opportunity costs: Who really pays for conservation?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this