Coordination of conservation efforts across national boundaries could
achieve significantly higher results and at less cost than conservation
actions planned within individual states, researchers at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem and in Australia have found.
Dr. Salit Kark of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Science
and Dr. Noam Levin of the Department of Geography at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, together with Dr Hedley Grantham and Professor
Hugh Possingham from the University of Queensland in Australia, wanted
to determine how much more efficient it might be if countries within
the Mediterranean basin collaborated their conservation decisions and
"We wanted to investigate the costs and benefits of international
collaboration on biodiversity conservation. We chose the terrestrial
Mediterranean basin due to its complexity. On the one hand it is an
important global biodiversity hotspot with many endemic and rare
species. On the other hand, it holds over 25 countries with 250 million
people, and large threats are posed to its unique biodiversity.
Currently, conservation efforts are largely uncoordinated across the
whole region," said Dr Kark, head of the Hebrew University Biodiversity
The study — featured on the cover of a recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
of the USA — found that there could be a $67-billion savings in costs
if conservation efforts of endemic vertebrates were coordinated across
all the highly threatened Mediterranean ecosystem, compared with an
uncoordinated plan. The amount saved is estimated as 45% of the total
A coordinated plan with just the European Union (EU) countries would
also lead to substantial savings compared with no coordination across
the Mediterranean Basin’s countries. The authors also discuss the
limitations of coordinating efforts.
"Because countries belonging to the European Union cover nearly half
of the area of the Mediterranean Basin, we estimated the costs and
benefits of conservation when efforts are coordinated across the whole
Mediterranean and compared this to an EU partly coordinated plan and
with the current situation where each country does its own thing," Dr
Levin, a Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing expert, said.
"While many conservation studies consider biodiversity, in the real
world one needs to consider the cost of conservation and the threats to
biodiversity. This study shows that when conservation costs and threats
are taken into account, conservation is much more efficient," said
Prof. Possingham. It would be ideal if conservation dollars could be
directed to areas with the highest return on investment, however, this
requires the ability to transfer money across national boundaries,
something that is rarely considered, said Dr Grantham.
"The initiative declared in the recent Paris Summit for the
Mediterranean, which nearly all heads of state from the Mediterranean
Basin, including those from Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean Basin and
North Africa attended, provides a political basis for coordination.
Conservation would be an excellent avenue for countries across the
region to work together," said Dr Kark.
Source : The Hebrew University of Jerusalem