Improved budgetary planning for threatened species and ecological community recovery plans

Stephen T. Garnett, Linda Luck, Kerstin K. Zander, Ram Pandit, Asha Gunawardena, David Pannell

Research output: Book/ReportOther output


Every recovery plan for a threatened species or ecological community requires a budget that estimates the cost of the actions specified in the plan. When first initiated in the 1990s, these budgets were routinely used as the basis for funding subsequent actions. Gradually, however, they have been simplified to become indicative of costs with no commitment to funding. This has reduced their utility and quality as there is no motivation for either the authors or reviewers to check the accuracy of the estimates, which in turn means they are of little use for budgetary planning. There is also a trend for the budget estimates to be specified only at the highest level with no transparency about how they have been compiled. In this report we have (i) recalculated budget estimates for four recovery plans
– Boggomoss Snail, Swift Parrot, Macquarie Perch and Central Rock-Rat – to explore how these budgets could contribute to understanding both the costs and the benefits of supporting the recovery; (ii) developed a framework for calculating the costs of predator exclusion fencing; (iii) obtained initial costs of ex situ conservation; (iv) calculated the improvements in threat alleviation that can be obtained from investment in different actions. For (i) we have broken down each action in each recovery plan into their component parts and the year, over a five year period, in which the action will occur so that we can include provision for inflation and changes in employment costs. As all actions need to be undertaken by people, we determined the employment category and institutional affiliation of the personnel likely to be undertaking those actions, the time that will be required to carry out each action and the employment status (e.g. full-time, casual, contract). We have also calculated the travel costs, operational costs, the costs of equipment and, where relevant, the costs of (ii) and (iii) above. We have separated the costs between those that need to be covered by institutions, including private businesses, and those that are provided voluntarily as in-kind support by private citizens. For institutions we have estimated the additional costs associated with employment. We have also matched actions against threats and assessed where the investment in threatened species conservation is most likely to occur.

Estimating costs in such detail allows aggregation in ways that can contribute not just to the recovery plan but to also forward planning for threatened species recovery as a whole. Budgetary summaries are provided for the whole plan,
for each strategic aim, each individual action and for each institutional partner. Similarly, employment is summarised for the plan and for each contributing institution. Expenditure can also be estimated for each priority category attributed
to an action and cost estimates can also be estimated for different levels of uncertainty about action completion. Classification of actions into the categories developed by the IUCN and for Conservation Action Planning also enables the relative costs of different action types to be compared and aggregated across plans. By attributing each threat to an action and estimating the extent to which a threat will be alleviated by delivering on that action, makes it possible to calculate monetary return on investment in terms of threat alleviation. Finally, based on estimates gleaned from the literature, indirect and induced benefits are then estimated in terms of expenditure per dollar of direct investment and employment per year for each unit of investment. Potential additional benefits to the budget planning are incorporation of non-market values, partnership benefits and use benefits (tourism etc.).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Environmental Science Programme
Commissioning bodyNational Environmental Science Programme, Department of Environment
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019


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