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Hugh Possingham plus a cast of many The Ecology Centre The University of Queensland Australia the ecology.

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Presentation on theme: "Hugh Possingham plus a cast of many The Ecology Centre The University of Queensland Australia the ecology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hugh Possingham plus a cast of many The Ecology Centre The University of Queensland Australia the ecology centre university of queensland australia Conservation biology: what is the problem?

2 Most of the spatial ecology lab (

3 Rational decision-making is critical to the future of the discipline The examples presented generalise to every problem I have heard the ecology centre university of queensland australia Message

4 What shall I do with my money? SpeciesProb of extinction Cost to secure Prob of success Polar bear 40%, V530% Panda bear 90%, CE2050% Koala bear 30%, V5100% A plant60%, E1050%

5 Which is the highest priority species? How threatened is it, V, E or CE? That determines priority right? That is not a properly posed problem, it is a question that has caused us to waste a lot of time and money – it has no objective! A question with an objective: How can I spend my money so I maximise the number of species secured?

6 Cost efficiency SpeciesProb of extinction Cost to secure, C Prob of success, P Polar bear 40%, V530% Panda bear 90%, CE2050% Koala bear 10%, NT5100% A plant60%, E1050% P/C = expected benefit /cost 0.06 0.03 0.20 0.05

7 Oops, sorry wrong problem Spend my money so I minimise the number of species I lose The biodiversity benefit, B, from securing the species is the benefit above and beyond what would have happened = prob of extinction

8 Cost efficiency SpeciesProb of extinction B Cost to secure, C Prob of success, P Polar bear 40%, V530% Panda bear 90%, CE2050% Koala bear 10%, NT5100% A plant60%, E1050% B*P/C = expected benefit /cost 0.024 0.025 0.020 0.030

9 Oops, sorry wrong problem Spend my money so I minimise the number of species I lose taking into account their value: their taxonomic uniqueness, or how much I would like to cuddle them. Easy, multiply the biodiversity benefit by that value and recalculate Why is this the optimal approach, cant I use a scoring system?

10 Scoring system SpeciesProb of extinction B Cost to secure, C Prob of success, P Polar bear 40%, V530% Panda bear 90%, CE2050% Koala bear 10%, NT5100% A plant60%, E1050% 2 4 1 3 2 3 5 3 4 2 4 3 Total score 8 9 10 9

11 Do you think scoring is rational? Is Force = mass + acceleration? What is the cost efficiency of buying 20kg of bananas for $10.00? Scoring system are wrong: there are rational and irrational ways of combining these numbers Say after me: Scoring Systems Suck – Liana Joseph Thursday 14:30 – Possingham et al TREE 2002 – Mace et al 2006 Proof of triage

12 Where and when should we invest $ for reservation to conserve biodiversity? Kerrie Wilson, Michael Bode, Marissa McBride © "Hotspots Revisited", Conservation International 2004

13 Brooks et al Science 7 July 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5783, pp. 58 - 61 Global Biodiversity Conservation Priorities Maps of the nine global biodiversity conservation priority templates: CE, crisis ecoregions (21); BH, biodiversity hot spots [(11), updated by (39)]; EBA, endemic bird areas (15); CPD, centers of plant diversity (12); MC, megadiversity countries (13); G200, global 200 ecoregions [(16), updated by (54)]; HBWA, high-biodiversity wilderness areas (14); FF, frontier forests (19); LW, last of the wild (20).

14 Prioritising where and when money is spent  Explain the problem  Describe the innovative science  Show how the science solves the problem  Something provocative  Funding agencies and partners

15 The problem (in words) How should we allocate scarce resources within or between different parts of the globe to conserve biodiversity? There are many priority setting schemes based on scores and rules and a lot of biodiversity data The problem is – nobody bothered to state the problem – what are these priority regions for, my annual holiday?

16 Existing hotspots answer the question of where biodiversity levels are highest and where threat was, and probably is, high Like threatened species lists, Hotspots were never intended to account for 1. The cost of action 2. How returns for conservation investment change through time, or 3. The dynamic nature of landscapes and the existence of uncertainty All of these things are needed to get you the biggest bang for your buck

17 Asia-Pacific Region

18 A dynamic system

19 Formulating the RIGHT problem… Objective: minimise the loss of biodiversity within a set of priority areas, given an ongoing loss of habitat, and a fixed budget for conservation investment Management decision: how many land parcels to reserve in the different priority areas at a given time Constraint: the annual budget

20 Formulating the RIGHT problem… System properties: endemic species richness, rate of forest conversion, and cost of land acquisition System dynamics: parcels are subject to a annual conversion rate, budget is allocated to one or more regions, which increases the reserved area and decreases conservation returns with time Uncertainty associated with the forest conversion data is incorporated by representing it as a stochastic process.

21 Formulating the RIGHT problem… Proportional forest loss, l 1 Reservation with fractional allocation u 1 Proportional forest loss, l 2 Reservation with fractional allocation u 2 Budget, B R1R1 A1A1 R2R2 L1L1 A2A2 L2L2

22 The Data Priority AreaNumber endemic birds Conversion rate (%/yr) Cost (US$ km-2 year-1) Sulawesi67-2.476 Java/Bali24-1.7782 Sumatra18-2.395 Southern Peninsular Malaysia 4-1.22746 Borneo29-2.1110

23 Solution Method Stochastic dynamic programming will give optimal results but is limited to low- dimensional problems Simpler heuristics –Maximise short term gain of species (ignores threat) –Minimise short term loss of species (accounts for threat) Multimedia

24 To the whiteboard a multimedia talk


26 Results The minimisation of short term loss closely approximates the optimal solution Answer –Spend all your money in Sulawesi until nothing left to do there –Then Sumatra, then Java/Bali, then Borneo –Finally Peninsular Malaysia

27 What if we had used a simple-minded scoring approach? Table 1 Data for the five priority areas Priority Area Area (km 2 ) Forested area (km 2 ) in 1997 Reserved area (km 2 ) in 2003 # endemic bird species Conversion rate, % yr - Cost US$ km -1 Rank Sumatra475746164303849011842.32952 Borneo7353724269751739892922.131103 Sulawesi18753079509681506712.41761 Java/Bali1387871946487702431.747824 Malaysia1315985850029221451.2527465 3 2 4

28 Summary We properly formulated the problem Found simple heuristics that perform well Tells you not only how much to spend where, but when! Scoring systems provide an inefficient answer – are they really that bad?

29 Can I do this for all the world’s hotspots? Michael Bode, Kerrie Wilson, Tom Brooks, Will Turner, Marissa McBride, Emma Underwood In press rejection

30 Considerations The world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots Take into account –Threat (rate of conversion) –Endemic species (number of) Mammals, Amphibian, Birds, Reptiles,Freshwater Fish, Tiger Beetles, Vascular Plants, All vertebrates –Cost

31 Where should I put my $310 million over the next 20 years? © "Hotspots Revisited", Conservation International 2004

32 Some of data We could use some inane medieval scoring method?

33 Unpublished – Bode et al

34 Take home Money matters a lot more that the other parameters, and to a lesser extent % reserved, threat and endemic species richness With costs we allocate funds consistently to seven or eight regions relatively independently of the taxa used to set priorities: –Tropical Andes –Guinea Forests of West Africa –East Afromontane –East Melanesian Islands –Madagascar … What group of species you use does not matter too much!

35 New stuff What if we built the world’s reserve systems again from scratch? We could achieve so much more with same investment – not just hotspots Hoekstra et al. But reservation is only part of conservation – what if we allowed different sorts of actions like weed control, revegetation, … Wilson, Shaw, Underwood et al. – PLoS in press More examples of ROI – Murdoch et al Risk and uncertainty – McBride et al All part of general Return On Investment/Cost efficiency thinking

36 Scoring systems helpline If you still feel you need to use scoring systems and you need confidential help: Ring+61 7 3365 9766 – 24 hours a day Confidentiality guaranteed Special courses: step program where we still allow some scoring where appropriate

37 Working on more slogans to help you go cold turkey on scoring systems Properly formulated problems and practically perfect in every possible way Possingham is a patronising pontificating p…

38 Can be applied to any decision making Key biodiversity areas, KBAs Regional management plans The answer can be done on a spreadsheet Cost Efficiency = expected benefit/cost Cost benefit analysis? Multi-criteria decision analysis? Does it cause change? Quick Exit

39 Australian biodiversity priorities Dear Hugh, Given limited resources what should I do now to minimise Australia’s net loss of biodiversity over the next 100 years, yours faithfully, John Howard Prime Minister of Australia

40 Species saved per $ spent List continental scale management options Estimate cost Calculate species saved –Convert birds or plants to all species – 1 bird = 20 plants, one plant = 20 other species Guess socio-political feasibility Evaluate collateral benefit (carbon fixed) See “Setting biodiversity priorities”

41 Prevent broadscale clearing of high biodiversity areas in QLD FactorValue No. of species saved5,280 Area2,270,400 ha Cost/ha$88 Total cost$200m No. species saved/$1m26 Collateral benefit$4,008m Collateral benefit/total cost20

42 Protect the health of rivers that are least disturbed FactorValue No. of species saved2,940 Total cost$30m No. species saved/$1m98 Collateral benefit$390m Collateral benefit/total cost13

43 Mechanical control of feral predators FactorValue No. of species saved44 Total cost$22.5m No. species saved/$1m2 Collateral benefit$15 m Collateral benefit/total cost0.7

44 Process List the options –Stop land clearing in QLD –Salinity management in key catchments in WA –Biocontrol of major weeds –Early eradication, better quarantine Work out cost and species saved Leave collateral benefits as a separate currency Synthesise, rank and sell to PM and cabinet

45 Conclusion Is this useful in the real world? We used cost- efficiency thinking to deliver a national conservation plan for Australia which has helped save 50+ million hectares, declaration of wild rivers, rezoned GBR … What am I if I do conservation and I don’t include $ in my decision making? Making smart conservation decisions is largely a problem of problem definition and logic: getting something done is largely a problem of marketing, timing, flirting and buying people, like me, drinks

46 How much money should I spend on monitoring? What is the purpose of monitoring? How should I allocate funds to managing spatially structured threatened species, or weeds, or a harvestable wildlife species? When do I know a species is eradicated? What are optimal disturbance regimes? the ecology centre university of queensland australia Other lab activities

47 Spatial Ecology Lab at UQ: quantitative ecologists Kerrie Wilson Josie Carwardine Liana Joseph Michael Bode + Marissa McBride + Matt Watts + Tara Martin + Tracey Regan + David Pavlacky + Justine Murray + Carissa Klein + Eddie Game + others Emily Nicholson Hamish McCallum Peter Baxter Eve McDonald -Madden Hiroyuki Yokomizo Reinald o Lourival Karen Hurley Maria Beger

48 Australian Research Council Partners/funders

49 Conservation Letters


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