Categorized | Imperiled Wildlife

Slate, Spending and Species Recovery

Anyone in wildlife conservation circles in Washington DC knows Defenders fantastic reputation as an effective advocate for more federal spending on endangered species recovery.  I’m proud of all the successes my colleagues Mary Beth Beetham and Robert Dewey have achieved to get more funding for wildlife, but Congress continues to allocate too little money to cover the necessary steps to recover all species.  Many endangered animals and plants get less than $5,000 a year – far too little to allow them to recover.

Given how little funding there is, we also have to think about how to use this funding effectively to do the most good.  We’ve just published a report advocating for increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of endangered species policy in the U.S. by doing a better job of prioritizing resources.  This means finding objective ways to allocate dollars to do the most good.  Figuring out cost is relatively easy but how do you figure out the value side – which species deserve more attention.  Slate has just published a nice story on this issue following one that Scientific American published last year.  We’ve focused much of our effort in examining how New Zealand is approaching prioritization.

New Zealand looks at the taxonomic distinctiveness of its species and the likelihood that management will succeed and compares those to cost to find better ways to allocate endangered species recovery funding.  Their government scientists think that this approach will allow them to save almost 50% more species for the same amount of money.  A more complicated system may be appropriate in the U.S.  For example, a system that values wide-ranging species or species with particular cultural values might better account for some of the reasons that polls consistently show that American want to see endangered species protected.  We do not have such a system in place now, but Defenders is working to try to make such a change in policy possible – so that the money we do have is used to save as much wildlife as possible.

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- who has written 17 posts on dotWild.

Tim Male is Vice President for Conservation at Defenders of Wildlife. Tim directs a number of Defenders’ conservation policy programs, including Habitat and Highways, Conservation Planning, Federal Lands, Oregon Biodiversity Partnership, and Economics.

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dotWild is the blog of scientists and policy experts at Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.