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The Economics of Saving an Endangered Species

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How do you determine which endangered species receives resources to save them, and which go without?

Traditionally money has been channeled to a species based on risk. Those species at greater risk receive greater funds in order to boost conservation efforts. However director of Queensland University’s Centre for Excellence in Environmental Decisions, Professor Hugh Possingham, has proposed a more rational, mathematical, and economical approach to conservation.

Essentially a conservation effort based upon sound economical decision making, conservation by numbers is a process by which a species is given a score and ranked in comparison to other species. Those that score highly receive funding,those that score low receive little or no funding. A species score is determined by a complex formula which involves taking into account the monetary benefit of a species, the chance of successful conservation, and the cost of a successful programme. The process also involves determining not only the financial benefit a species may have, such as tourism, but also the ecological benefit a species has to the environment.

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