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Shortfalls in conservation evidence: moving from ecological effects of interventions to policy evaluation

Adams, VM ORCID: 0000-0002-3509-7901, Barnes, M and Pressey, RL 2019 , 'Shortfalls in conservation evidence: moving from ecological effects of interventions to policy evaluation' , One Earth, vol. 1, no. 1 , pp. 62-75 , doi:

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Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in natural environments requires careful management choices. However, common methods of evaluating the impact of conservation interventions can have contextual shortcomings. Here, we make a call for counterfactual thinking - asking the question “what would have happened in the absence of an intervention?” - with the support of rigorous evaluation approaches and more thoughtful consideration of human dimensions and behavior. We review and contrast different evaluation approaches and highlight the advantages of counterfactual approaches over alternative methods. We also illustrate how even robust estimates of ecological impact can fail to estimate the impact of specific policy interventions. The latter depend importantly on human preferences and responses to regulations and incentives that cannot be captured by studies of ecological impact. We propose specific and practical steps that all evaluations can implement now to immediately improve their credibility and accountability.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Adams, VM and Barnes, M and Pressey, RL
Keywords: impact evaluation, conservation evidence, counterfactual thinking, quasi-experimental evaluation, policy evaluation, quasi experimental methods
Journal or Publication Title: One Earth
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2590-3322
DOI / ID Number:
Copyright Information:

© 2019 Elsevier

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