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Analysis

Conservation Strategy Fund helps local conservationists use economic tools to find smart, efficient solutions to the most urgent environmental problems. Since its creation in 1998, CSF has conducted dozens of analysis projects in forests, rivers and coastal environments. Most of our work has focused in the tropics, where extraordinarily high levels of biological diversity are found. To maximize the reach and quality of our work, we involve leading experts and conservation organizations in all of our projects.

Southern Tropical Andes Research Fellows

In 2008, CSF held a workshop for decision-makers to illustrate to key partners how economic analysis can help conservation initiatives. Many representatives attended from NGOs as well as government and cooperation agencies working in Peru and Bolivia. An advanced conservation economics course was then taught to 25 participants from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia. We received over 200 applications for the course and out of those, accepted 25 participants.

Picture of sugar mill in northern Bolivia

Sugar Cane in the Bolivian Amazon

Over the past three decades, the Amazonian region in northern Bolivia has experienced a process of agricultural colonization in formerly pristine forestlands.

Forest conversion for agricultural projects is the basis of several national and local government development schemes. As of 2008, the most prominent development proposal in the region involved building a sugar mill and planting more than 20,000 hectares of sugar cane. However, consensus was lacking on whether and how such a project should be implemented, due in part to the absence of any rigorous feasibility studies.

Building Economics Skills to Sustain Conservation in the Southern Tropical Andes

Fostering local talent in Conservation Economics is a key piece in the puzzle of protecting the rich biodiversity of the tropical Andes region. With support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and others, CSF is delivering an integrated training package to address this need. The project began in 2009 with Conservation Economics instruction for decision-makers and young economists. It has continued with a competitive program of research grants for economists interested in working on conservation themes in the rain forest regions of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Image of Brazilian cattle at the edge of the rainforest

Subsidies, Credit and Cattle in Southern Amazonas

Cattle ranching is a leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon Basin. Forests are razed for pasture when landowners perceive that more profits can be made from cows than from the various products of the intact forest. This calculation is influenced by the availability of subsidized credit, long used a tool to drive economic expansion on the agricultural frontier.

Interoceanica Sur Road in Peru

Tropical forests of southeastern Peru hold the highest biodiversity levels in the world. This unique region is threatened by the construction of a paved road linking Brazil to Peruvian ports on the Pacific Ocean. CSF carried out a study to identify priority areas for conservation investments to mitigate the so-called "Interoceánica Sur" road's impacts. To do this, we analyzed the road’s effects on land-use profits, information we combined with data on the distribution of wild plant and animal species. The economic and biological data was overlaid to find where the greatest conservation gains can be achieved at least cost. Finally, we considered socio-political factors that might favor or restrict conservation.

Photo of a deep sea giant turtle swimming in clear tropical sea water.

Ocean Economics - Abrolhos Reef, Brazil

Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) conducted economic valuation research of Marine areas in Belize, Panama and Brazil. This work was supported by Conservation International’s Marine Management Area Science program. Valuation of ecosystem goods and services was carried out within three formally protected marine areas: Gladden Spit (Belize), Coiba (Panama) and Abrolhos (Brazil).

Ocean Economics - Coiba National Park, Panama

Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) conducted economic valuation research of Marine areas in Belize, Panama, and Brazil. This work was supported by Conservation International’s Marine Management Area Science program and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Valuation of ecosystem goods and services was carried out within three formally protected marine areas: Gladden Spit (Belize), Coiba (Panama) and Abrolhos (Brazil). CSF's Coiba research was led by one of our training graduates, Ricardo Montenegro, of the Alliance for Conservation and Development, a Panamanian NGO.

Ocean Economics - Gladden Spit, Belize

Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) conducted economic valuation research of Marine areas in Belize, Panama and Brazil. This work was supported by Conservation International’s Marine Management Area Science program. Valuation of ecosystem goods and services was carried out within three formally protected marine areas: Gladden Spit (Belize), Coiba (Panama) and Abrolhos (Brazil).

Usumacinta Dam

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p>In a collaborative study by ProNatura Chiapas, Defensores de la Naturaleza, Conservation International and CSF, we analyzed a dam proposed on the Usumacinta River in Mexico. Our objective was to stimulate discussion on the costs and benefits of such projects in Mesoamerica's largest watershed. We chose to analyze the Tenosique project (formerly known as Boca del Cerro), given that it is apparently the dam being given the most serious consideration by planners. We analyzed the project with four criteria in mind: financial feasibility; economic efficiency; the distribution of costs and benefits; and environmental sustainability. A project is considered financially feasible if the firm implementing it receives income in excess of its costs.

Photo of invasive swordfern in forest

Economic Impacts of Invasive Species

In 2006 and 2007, CSF worked with The Nature Conservancy to develop an interview-based economic assessment process to assist developing countries in evaluating and addressing the impacts of invasive species.

CSF conducted economic assessments of invasive species of particular concern in Uganda, Ghana and Zambia in partnership with CABI Africa and The World Conservation Union (IUCN) as part of the UNEP/GEF project "Removing Barriers to Invasive Plant Management in Africa."

In the Ashanti region of Ghana, we found that the aggressive invasive tree Broussonetia papyrifera (Pulp mulberry) can reduce land rents by 50%, and decrease yields by 50% - 90% for important crops such as maize, cocoa and cassava.