Nearly forty years old, the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) remains a landmark act in conservation and one of the world’s most comprehensive laws designed to prevent species extinctions and support recovery efforts for imperiled species. A controversial law and often subject to political attack, the ESA is successful overall but not without difficulties. Those who enforce the ESA, for example, struggle to achieve viable recovery goals for many species.
This forward-thinking, innovative volume provides a roadmap for designing species conservation programs on the ground so they are effective and take place upstream of regulation, which will contribute to a reduction in lawsuits and other expenses that arise after a species is listed. Proactive Strategies for Species Protection is a guidebook for anyone anywhere interested in designing programs that incentivize environmental stewardship and species conservation.
This volume brings together ecologists, foresters, social scientists, lawyers, ranchers, government officials, and others to create a legal, scientific, sociological, financial, and technological foundation for designing solutions that incentivize conservation action for hundreds of at-risk species—prior to their potential listing under the ESA. Proactive Strategies for Protecting Species explores the perspectives, opportunities, and challenges around designing and implementing pre-listing programs and approaches to species conservation.
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NOAA Senior Scientist Robin Waples reviews Proactive Strategies in the journal Bioscience, calling it "a breath of fresh air." Read the review here.
A short piece by Josh Donlan on Getting Ahead of the Endangered Species Act and the anticipated guidelines by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on pre-listing conservation. This post was published to coincide with the Ecological Society of America conference in August 2015.
This is the most useful and hopeful compilation of environmental writing I have come across in my career. I hope it will be a reference point for a major change in expectations and practices. - Jeremy Sokulsky, President, Environmental Incentives
For those who agree that the 'cost' of upstream conservation is far more preferable than waiting for the Endangered Species Act to sound the alarm of pending species endangerment, this primer provides an important and pragmatic guide, while promoting responsible stewardship of the incredible natural resources entrusted to our care. - Jamie Rappaport Clark, Executive Director at Defenders of Wildlife
This is the first book I have seen that makes a real attempt to suggest ways to outflank the Endangered Species Act so that species preservation actually happens. - Randy Simmons, Utah State University and coauthor of Wilderness and Political Ecology
There's a big idea at the heart of this book - the kind of big idea that promises to transform how we conduct the business of species and habitat conservation. Everyone wins when the public and private sectors work together to sustain wildlife and natural resources through the use of proactive incentives instead of only relying on regulation. These types of approaches are at the foundation of environmental health, economic opportunity, and cross-sectorial cooperation. - Craig Hanson, Global Director of Food, Forests & Water at the World Resources Institute
Shorebirds are declining worldwide. An analysis using data from long-term counts of 19 North American shorebird species suggests a 50% decline since 1974. While the factors contributing to shorebird declines are complex and not firmly established, wetland destruction and depletion of associated food resources at stopover and wintering sites are implicated as driving factors. Shorebirds are migratory, traveling as much as 30,000 km a year and spending up to two-thirds of the year at wintering grounds. Panama Bay is one of the most important wintering and stopover areas for shorebirds in the western hemisphere. At least 33 shorebird species are known to use Panama Bay. The numbers are astounding. For example, over 1 million Western Sandpipers - representing 30% of the entire species - are thought to use Panama Bay during the migratory season. The majority of shorebirds utilize the area of Panama Bay directly adjacent to Panama City, one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
In 2015, Advanced Conservation Strategies conducted a Conservation Landscape Assessment of Panama Bay for the David & Lucile Packard Foundation. A research team, including natural scientists, social scientists, architects, and land use planners, conducted primary and secondary research, including stakeholder interviews across all sectors in Panama City. The goal was to assess the state of shorebird habitat protection in Panama Bay and how it fits into the larger landscape and dynamics surrounding the Panama City metropolitan area. Advanced Conservation Strategies also provided a series of broad, forward-looking recommendations to improve wetland and shorebird protection.
Designing Market Solutions with Artisanal Fishing Communities for Economic Benefits and Marine Protection
Designing Market Solutions with Artisanal Fishing Communities for Economic Benefits and Marine Protection
No-take Marine Protected Areas (Nt-MPAs) are an important tool for biodiversity conservation. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that a large proportion of Nt-MPAs are not managed or enforced effectively. Further, governments and fishing communities are often resistant to the implementation and compliance of formal Nt-MPAs. Consequently, there is a need to increase the effectiveness of marine conservation by developing new approaches to biodiversity protection that promote fisher engagement and sustainable fishery practices.
Territorial User Rights for Fisheries, known as TURFs, are being promoted to enhance the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. Chile has one of the longest running TURF policies in the world. Many artisanal fishers are organized in formal cooperatives and are granted TURFs by the federal government: long-term tenure over a section of coast which they can harvest benthic invertebrates and other resources. With our partners (Shellcatch, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, and Virginia Tech), we are designing and piloting a new market model in Chile that provides measurable coastal biodiversity benefits while simultaneously providing economic benefits to fishing cooperatives. We are doing so by co-designing a program with artisanal fishers that compensates them for the opportunity costs forgone by setting aside a portion of their TURF as an enforced no-take zone. The outcome is a scalable program that provides a supplementary revenue stream to fishing cooperatives in exchange for management actions that produce verified biodiversity benefits and promote sustainable fisheries. ACS is using a place-based, human-centered approach to design a program that will have the necessary support and buy-in from local fishers to result in landscape-scale biodiversity benefits and novel cross-sector alliances.
Want to know more? Check out our short essay on Incentivizing biodiversity conservation in artisanal fishing communities through territorial user rights and business model innovation published in the journal Conservation Biology.
Human-centered design can be defined by its three main principles: empathy for users, a discipline of prototyping, and a tolerance for failure. As a discipline, it strives to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality in analyzing and fitting various solutions to a specific problem. It's been around the private sector for decades. It is increasingly being used in the social sector. Yet, it's explicit use in environmental settings remains rare. We are trying to change that.
Human-centered Design is a form of problem solving employed to generate solutions to wicked challenges. Wicked challenges are issues that are interconnected to other problems, constantly evolving, largely driven by human values, and where knowledge is incomplete. Human-centered Design is a systematic process aimed at solving problems in which no single piece of data or any level of data disclosure will solve. It is options-focused, possibility driven, and iterative. And, it embraces empathy for the user: the stakeholders that are being targeted for some service, product, or program.
With our partners (Central, Virginia Tech), we are applying human-centered design approaches to environmental challenges. We are doing so with fishing communities in Chile and Thailand, ranchers in Argentina, and forest landowners in the United States.
What to know more? Check out some of our recent work on incentive program design.
The dugong, an herbivorous large marine mammal often known as the sea cow, is on its way to disappearing from most of its range. Without substantial and effective interventions, dugongs will become extinct across much of its range. Dugongs are hunted for food and accidently drowned in fishing gear throughout the Indian and Pacific Ocean basins. Dugongs depend on healthy coastal seagrass meadows for food and habitat. These seagrass ecosystems also provide important habitat and breeding grounds for many marine species, including fishery species that millions of people around the globe depend on daily for their livelihoods. Those same seagrass beds provide a suite of environmental services to humanity, including coastal protection and carbon sequestration. At least one-third of the world’s seagrass habitat has already been lost, and the remaining habitat is currently disappearing at a rate of approximately 7% per year.
In 2007, the United Nations Environment Programme initiated a global conservation agreement in response to the alarming decline of dugongs and seagrass habitats. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range, under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, is viewed by all Signatory States as a crucial mechanism to preserve this species. With support from the Government of United Arab Emirates through the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi, a Secretariat was created to support dugong range nations. Most recently, the Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project was launched. With financing from GEF, the project aims to enhance the conservation of dugongs and their associated seagrass ecosystems in eight countries in the Indo-Pacific region: Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Vanuatu.
We have been an active partner of these projects since 2010. ACS serves as a Technical Advisor to the Secretariat, is on the Executive Project Steering Committee, and is helping design and implement a program in Thailand.
For more information, check out The Dugong, Seagrass and Coastal Communities Initiative or visit the CMS website.