Measuring the success and cost effectiveness of New Zealand multiple-species projects to the conservation of threatened species

Journal Article
Much attention is focused on conservation efforts to protect and recover threatened species. As part of these efforts, many projects attempt to manage sites containing populations of more than one threatened species. Evaluation of those multiple-species projects is essential to determine their success and cost effectiveness in the conservation of threatened species. In this paper, we report on the further development of the cost utility analysis (CUA) technique, previously tested on single-species programs, to the evaluation of multiple-species projects. The results of tests on six New Zealand projects show that cost utility analysis can determine the species conservation success and cost effectiveness of a range of different multiple-species projects. The four projects that manage a high proportion of the total population of a threatened species were the most successful in terms of improving the conservation status of species. The present value (PV) cost per unit of output for each project ranged from NZ$425,000 to more than NZ$19 million. This research finds no evidence for the proposition that multiple-species projects are more cost effective than single-species programs in the conservation of threatened species. Multiple-species projects may, however, have other outputs, such as advocacy and education, or ecosystem restoration that are included in their objectives and are, as yet, unmeasured. The versatility of the cost utility analysis technique provides further support for its use both in New Zealand and internationally for the evaluation of both single-species programs and multiple-species projects.