Conservation Biology Policy: A Different Perspective
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2007

Lisa B. Done, DVM, MPVM

Oxnard, CA, USA


As veterinary medicine becomes more sophisticated, core values and reasons for conservation implementation can be overlooked. Most veterinarians approach conservation as a scientific issue. Other philosophic viewpoints of conservation policy can provide a different perspective towards these issues. These philosophic viewpoints comprise:

1.  Defining conservation medicine and biology as applied interdisciplinary sciences, which produce information that is used by parks, forest services, agencies, resource managers, as well as Congress, and is structured by functional and normative postulates.13

2.  Outlining the taxonomy and the dichotomies of values associated with conservation (intrinsic versus extrinsic values, use value, existence value, direct, and indirect value).6,7,10-12

3.  Measuring these values on an economic and taxonomic level.12

4.  Defining cost versus benefit perspectives.2,3,5,8,9

Conservation issues which demonstrate these philosophies include illegal exploitation of wildlife, and Africa’s elephant (Loxodonta africana) conservation and nuisance animal problems. Practical considerations and possible solutions to the problematic issue of conservation biology policy include community-based actions, outside community activism, the Endangered Species Act (1973), benefit-cost analysis, and political solutions such as safe harbor and habitat conservation plans. Using African wildlife as an example, possible solutions include: a market solution for preserving the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)4; travel cost-benefit survey of an African national park in relationship to tourism; the CAMPFIRE program in Zimbabwe1; and the viewing value (economic) of elephants3. Approaching conservation biology policy from values-based and realistic cost-benefit perspectives can expand the field and contribute to further innovative solutions.

Literature Cited

1.  Barbier, E. 1992. Community-based development in Africa. In: Swanson, T., and E. Barbier (eds.). Economics for the Wilds. Island Press. 103–135.

2.  Berger, J., and C. Cunningham. 1994. Active intervention and conservation: Africa’s pachyderm problem. Science. 262:1241–1242.

3.  Brown, G., and W. Henry. 1993. The viewing value of elephants. In: Barbier, E. (ed.). Economics and Ecology. Chapman and Hall, London. 146–155.

4.  Brown, G., and D. Layton. A market solution for preserving biodiversity. In: Shogren, J., and J. Tschirhart (eds.). Endangered Species Protection in the United States, Biological Needs, Political Realities, Economic Choices. Cambridge University Press. In press.

5.  Dasgupta, R. 1995. Population, poverty and the local environment. Scientific Amer. 272:40–45.

6.  Ehrenfeld, D. 1988. Why put a value on biodiversity? In: Wilson, E.O. (ed.). Biodiversity. National Academy Press. 212–215.

7.  Haneman, M. 1988. Economics and the preservation of biodiversity. In: Wilson, E.O. (ed.). Biodiversity. National Academy Press. 193–199.

8.  Kreuter, U.P., and R.T. Simmons. 1995. Who owns the elephant? The political economy of saving the African elephant. In: Anderson, T., and P. Hill (eds.). Wildlife in the Marketplace. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. 147–165.

9.  Krutilla, J.V. 1967. Conservation reconsidered. Amer Econ Rev. 57:777–786.

10.  Milner-Gulland, E., and N. Leader-Williams. 1992. Illegal exploitation of wildlife. In: Swanson T., and E. Barbier (eds.). Economics for the Wilds. Island Press. 195–213.

11.  Norton, B. 1988. Commodity, amenity and morality: the limits of quantification in valuing biodiversity. In: Wilson, E.O. (ed.). Biodiversity. National Academy Press. 200–205.

12.  Randall, A. 1988. What mainstream economists have to say about the value of biodiversity. In: Wilson, E.O. (ed.). Biodiversity. National Academy Press. 217–223.

13.  Soule, M.E. 1985. What is Conservation Biology? BioScience. 35:727–734.


Speaker Information
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Lisa B. Done, DVM, MPVM
Oxnard, CA, USA

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