Background information and assumptions
The example region is the Central West Catchment Management Authority area (CW CMA) in New South Wales, Australia. CW CMA covers 85,000 km2 (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change 2008c). Native vegetation covers approximately 40% of CW CMA, comprising around 16,500 km2 of native woody vegetation and an estimated 16,500 km2 of native non-woody vegetation (the latter figure was adjusted to take account of the large area of “indeterminate” non-woody cover in the CW CMA) (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change 2008c). Land uses are mostly cropping, grazing by domestic livestock and small urban areas. Broad-scale clearing has ceased, but degradation and loss of threatened species habitats continues at site and landscape scales. The region is typical of an inland catchment area in southeastern Australia.
One hundred and seven terrestrial species (plants and animals) listed as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered in New South Wales (i.e., threatened species) occur in CW CMA (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change 2008d). The threatened species in CW CMA were assigned to the small-population group and/or to the declining-population group according to their characteristics (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change 2008d, 2008e) resulting in 59 small-population species, 42 declining-population species, and four species in both groups (two threatened species that very rarely visit CW CMA were excluded from the calculations). Small-population species were estimated to occur at an average of 20 sites each, with an average area of 50 ha per site (total area of 630 km2), based on information in recovery plans (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change 2008f) and in NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (2007, 2008d, 2008e), and assuming that approximately half the sites where the species occur are currently recorded. Management at all sites is required for recovery of these species.
For simplicity, each threatened species was assigned the same value (species value or species weight sensu Joseph et al., in press) and therefore all species had equal weighting. Also for simplicity, the probability of successful implementation of the recovery strategies and their component recovery actions (likelihood of success sensu Joseph et al., in press), and the probability of recovering the species by applying the recovery strategies (biodiversity benefit sensu Joseph et al., in press) were both assigned as one for all species. Implementation of the actions in the recovery strategies (Table 1) was assumed to lead to recovery of all species in the recovery groups, so that the probabilities of their persistence over time are all one. Small-population species were assumed to recover if the sites where they occur are protected, habitat at their sites is rehabilitated, threats preventing the recovery of the species at the sites are removed, and captive breeding and/or translocations are undertaken to enhance the population if required. Declining-population species were assumed to recover if limiting threats are removed and active habitat rehabilitation and management are undertaken at landscape scale to improve 30% of their habitat. Species assigned to both groups were included in the calculations for both groups.
Costs of the recovery strategies and component actions were based on information from Stoneham et al. (2003), Freudenberger et al. (2004), McCosker (2008), and from the web sites of the following organizations and programs: Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water, Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, West 2000Plus, Western Catchment Management Authority, Murray Catchment Management Authority, Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority, Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, Queensland Murray Darling Committee, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, Natural Heritage Trust Envirofund, Bush Tender, and Plains Tender.
Recovery costs for the 63 small-population threatened species (includes four species in both groups) are calculated as follows. Each species is estimated to occur at 20 sites with an average area of 50 ha per site (total area of 630 km2). Fencing 50% of the sites for all species (1,890 km fencing) at AU$2,000 per km equals AU$3.8 million. Signage at 50% of the sites for all species at $5,000 per site equals AU$3.2 million. Fox, pig, and/or rabbit control at all sites for 15 species at $5 per ha per year equals AU$75,000 per year. Weed control at all sites for 30 species at AU$10 per ha per year equals AU$300,000 per year. Breeding or propagation programs and/or translocation for six species at AU$200,000 per species per year equals AU$1.2 million per year. Incentive funds provided at 10% of sites for all species (6,300 ha) at AU$100 per ha per year equals AU$630,000 per year. Incentive funds are required at a minority of sites for small-population species because their area requirements are relatively small, landholders often (but not always) view their protection favorably and are willing to forgo income from small areas of their land, and many sites with small-population species are on public land. Five people required to administer the recovery program and undertake landholder and community consultation at AU$100,000 per person per year equals AU$500,000 per year. The total cost over 3 years is therefore AU$15.2 million. This equates to an average cost per species of AU$420,000.
Recovery costs for the 46 declining-population species (includes four species in both groups) are calculated as follows. Thirty percent of the remaining habitat for declining population species is managed for their recovery through incentive schemes for landholders. The incentive schemes pay for management actions to improve habitats to recover declining population species at landscape scale, usually management or exclusion of grazing by domestic stock, retention and management of native vegetation, revegetation and regeneration, fire management, weed and erosion control, and control of exotic herbivores and carnivores. Incentive funds for habitat management across 30% of remaining habitat of declining population species (4,950 per km) at AU$200 per ha per year equals AU$99 million per year. Five people required to administer the incentive scheme costed at AU$100,000 per person per year equals AU$500,000 per year. The total cost over 3 years is therefore AU$298.5 million. This equates to an average cost per species of just under AU$6.5 million.