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Effectiveness of 20 years of conservation investments in protecting orangutans

Santika, Truly, Sherman, Julie, Voigt, Maria, Ancrenaz, Marc, Wich, Serge A., Wilson, Kerrie A., Possingham, Hugh, Massingham, Emily, Seaman, Dave J.I., Ashbury, Alison M., Azvi, Taufiq S., Banes, Graham L., Barrow, Elizabeth J., Burslem, David F.R.P., Delgado, Robert A., Erman, Andi, Fredriksson, Gabriella, Goossens, Benoit ORCID:, Houghton, Max, Indrawan, Tito P., Jaya, Ricko L., Kanamori, Tomoko, Knott, Cheryl D., Leiman, Ashley, Liswanto, Darmawan, Mach, Martin, Marshall, Andrew J., Martin, Julien G.A., Midora, Lelyana, Miller, Adam, Milne, Sol, Morgans, Courtney, Nardiyono, Nardi, Perwitasari-Farajallah, Dyah, Priatna, Dolly, Risch, Robert, Riyadi, Galuh M., Russon, Anne, Sembiring, Juhardi, Setiawan, Endro, Sidiq, Mohammad, Simon, Donna, Spehar, Stephanie, Struebig, Matthew J., Sumardi, Ibrahim, Tjiu, Albertus, Wahyudi, Rizki, Yanuar, Achmad and Meijaard, Erik 2022. Effectiveness of 20 years of conservation investments in protecting orangutans. Current Biology 32 (8) , pp. 1754-1763. 10.1016/j.cub.2022.02.051

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Conservation strategies are rarely systematically evaluated, which reduces transparency, hinders the cost-effective deployment of resources, and hides what works best in different contexts. Using data on the iconic and critically endangered orangutan (Pongo spp.), we developed a novel spatiotemporal framework for evaluating conservation investments. We show that around USD 1 billion was invested between 2000 and 2019 into orangutan conservation by governments, nongovernmental organizations, companies, and communities. Broken down by allocation to different conservation strategies, we find that habitat protection, patrolling, and public outreach had the greatest return on investment for maintaining orangutan populations. Given the variability in threats, land-use opportunity costs, and baseline remunerations in different regions, there were differential benefits per dollar invested across conservation activities and regions. We show that although challenging from a data and analysis perspective, it is possible to fully understand the relationships between conservation investments and outcomes and the external factors that influence these outcomes. Such analyses can provide improved guidance toward a more effective biodiversity conservation. Insights into the spatiotemporal interplays between the costs and benefits driving effectiveness can inform decisions about the most suitable orangutan conservation strategies for halting population declines. Although our study focuses on the three extant orangutan species of Sumatra and Borneo, our findings have broad application for evidence-based conservation science and practice worldwide.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0960-9822
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 June 2022
Date of Acceptance: 16 February 2022
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2023 16:42

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