Research finds little evidence of responsiveness to economic conditions by conservation nonprofits.
A University of Tennessee, Knoxville, study finds that nonprofit organizations aiming to protect biodiversity show little evidence of responding to economic signals, which could limit the effectiveness of future conservation efforts.
The study is published this week in the academic journal Ecology and Evolution and can be read at http://bit.ly/1t8fT24 .
The relationship between economic conditions and conservation efforts is complicated. On the one hand, funding for conservation depends on a booming economy, which swells state coffers and increases membership dues, service revenues and philanthropic giving.
On the other hand, economic growth is often perceived by conservationists as a threat to habitats and ecosystems because of more demand for raw materials and increased development, waste and pollution. Conservation organizations must balance these two conflicting forces.
"Employment, the stock market, a recession—they are all assumed to impact how conservation organizations do their work. But it is all talk and no data," said Peter Kareiva, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy. "This is the first study I know that actually used hard-nosed analysis to find out how conservation organizations change their behavior, or not, in response to economic shocks."
Nonprofits like The Nature Conservancy play a critical role in managing society's overall investment in biodiversity. In the U.S. alone, nonprofit organizations channel billions of dollars into efforts to conserve species and ecosystems. How effectively they manage these revenue streams depends on how well they cope with changes in the wider economy.
"Just as species have to evolve strategies to cope with feast and famine conditions in their environment, conservation nonprofits need to come up with strategies to deal with times of economic growth and recession if they are to achieve their conservation goals effectively," said Eric Larson, lead author of the study.
To find out just what strategies the nonprofits were using, the team examined conservation nonprofits' tax filings over a 10-year period that included a period of rapid growth as well as the 2008 recession.
What surprised them was how little evidence there was of responsiveness to economic conditions by these organizations.
"Conservation scientists pride themselves on developing strategic tools to help organizations prioritize ways to spend conservation funds. But as soon as we broaden the focus a bit to consider whole-organizational behavior, we see little evidence of strategy. Instead what we see is a sector that looks very much like it is just trying to muddle through," said Larson.
The authors also interviewed nonprofit leaders about organizational strategies. Their answers emphasized just how different conservation nonprofits are in how they try to deal with changing conditions. But once again, the researchers did not find that organizations employ orderly, proactive strategies to deal with changes in the economy. As one interviewee said, "In theory, we approach these issues strategically … but in practice … we're very opportunistic."
Larson and coauthors hope their findings encourage conservation nonprofits to plan for and respond to fluctuations in the economy effectively, and inspire other researchers to investigate how the economy affects conservation organizations and biodiversity itself.
Whitney Heins | newswise
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences