Conservation funding in Third World worth it, say researchers 

Professor Stephen Garnett says it is worthwhile investing in conservation research in poorer countries

Sustaining conservation funding to Third World countries could help to preserve some of the world’s rarest species, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) at Charles Darwin University have demonstrated that it is worthwhile investing in conservation research in poorer countries, even if some money is lost to corruption.

Professor Stephen Garnett said the paper he co-authored with Dr Kerstin Zander, published this week in the journal PLoS One, showed that some of the world’s rarest species only occur in some of the world’s most corrupt countries, but were still worth trying to save.

“Some people have suggested that conservation investments are just not worth making where corruption is really bad,” Professor Garnett said.

“What we have shown is that in most such countries the amount lost is very little compared to the purchasing power of the dollar.”

The analysis, done in association with colleagues at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, suggests that the top five countries for investing in the rarest species should be Ethiopia, Pakistan, Guinea, Sao Tome and Kyrgyzstan.

“The species we are talking about occur nowhere else, and won’t be saved without outside help,” Professor Garnett said. “Conservation investors need to take what precautions they can to ensure funds are spent for the purposes intended, but they are better off investing in these countries than in many rich countries where so much less can be purchased with each dollar.

“Such conservation investments are also likely to provide greater benefit to the human communities where the rare species live than they would in rich countries,” he said.