Weighing up the costs of collaboration

Multiple actors working together in the landscape

Prioritising conservation actions is a challenging task even when it’s a simple comparison between two options – for example, do you buy land and put it in a reserve or restore degraded land if you want to reduce the loss of habitat? However, the task of prioritisation becomes considerably more complex when you try to factor in multiple parties undertaking the actions.

In the real world many groups – individuals, NGOs, government agencies and so forth – are all attempting to conserve biodiversity. Often multiple groups will be working in the same landscape and the objectives of the groups may range from significantly overlapping to mostly diverging. If some of these groups were to collaborate in their conservation actions (eg, share the costs of buying land for a reserve), there could be significant benefits. But such collaboration has associated costs such as funds spent on travel and administration for collaborative meetings. And it often causes delays in being able to implement actions. Is collaboration worth the effort? We modeled a few scenarios involving collaboration (Gordon et al. 2013) to explore this question, and the short answer is: sometimes…

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