Strategies to conserve the koala: cost-effectiveness considerations
Clement A. Tisdell a, Harriet J. Preeceb, Sabah Abdullah a and Hawthorne L. Beyer c
a School of Economics, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia;
b Landscape Ecology and Conservation Group, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia;
c Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
Considerable resources are invested in conserving species that may be locally, but not globally, threatened. There are a variety of motivations for such parochial conservation practices and policies, though they can be ineffective or inefficient in achieving meaningful conservation outcomes at either local or broad scales. The koala in Australia is an example of this problem as it is a species which is highly valued by the public, is only threatened over a portion of its range, and yet attracts considerable conservation effort in the portions of its range where it is in decline. We review the conservation status of the koala and critically evaluate prescriptive and incentive-based policies for koala management in rural and urban contexts. We identify several approaches to koala conservation that are likely to be ineffective in advancing koala conservation and suggest possible reasons for their continued use. We also identify opportunities for relatively cost-effective rural conservation that have not been adequately explored. Long-term declines of koala populations in some regions imply that existing management strategies are ineffective. We conclude that several key challenges must be addressed to facilitate effective resource investment and improve conservation outcomes.