U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Shwiff, S.A., A. Anderson, R. Cullen, P.C.L. White, and S.S. Shwiff. 2013. Assignment of measurable costs and benefits to wildlife conservation projects. Wildlife Research 40:134-141. doi 10.1071/WR12102.


U.S. government work.


Success of wildlife conservation projects is determined by a suite of biological and economic factors. Donor and public understanding of the economic factors is becoming increasingly central to the longevity of funding for conservation efforts. Unlike typical economic evaluation, many costs and benefits related to conservation efforts are realised in nonmonetary terms. We identify the types of benefits and costs that arise from conservation projects and examine several well developed techniques that economists use to convert benefits and costs into monetary values so they may be compared in a common metric. Costs are typically more readily identifiable than benefits, with financial project costs reported most frequently, and opportunity and damage costs reported much less often. Most current evaluation methods rely primarily on cost-effectiveness analysis rather than cost–benefit analysis, a result of the difficultly in measuring benefits. We highlight improved methodology to measure secondary costs and benefits on a broader spatial scale, thereby promoting project efficacy and long-term success. Estimation of the secondary effects can provide a means to engage a wider audience in discussions of wildlife conservation by illuminating the relevant impacts to income and employment in local economies.

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