Chapter 11: Influences of knowledge on wildlife valuation and support for conserving species
Declining wild biodiversity is of global policy concern (McNeely and Scherr, 2003, Chapter 2) and economists have given increasing attention to it. Nevertheless, economists remain uncertain about how the public’s knowledge of wildlife species influences demand for funding the conservation of species (Munro and Hanley, 2001; MacMillan et al., 2006, p. 306). This chapter reports the results from an experimental Australian case study, and uses these results to identify ways in which information about species affects the willingness of the public to support (pay for) the conservation of species. Specifically, this study examines changes in the stated demand of a sample of the Australian public for funding conservation programmes for 24 Australian vertebrate species. These wildlife species are drawn from higher-order taxa (mammals, birds and reptiles), and most (but not all) occur only in tropical Australia, and vary in their conservation status. At the time of this study, half of the focal species were listed in the IUCN Red List (IUCN, 2004a) as threatened (see Table 11.1 later). The chosen set of species is of global interest. For example, Australia has the eighth highest number of threatened vertebrate species (terrestrial and marine) globally (IUCN, 2004b). But if the amniotes are considered (animals shielding their embryos within their body or by extensive membranes, for instance, mammals, reptiles and birds), Australia has the highest number (among all developed nations) of these species under threat (ibid.).
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