Skip to main content

Building robust, practicable counterfactuals and scenarios to evaluate the impact of species conservation interventions using inferential approaches

Grace, Molly K., Akçakaya, H. Resit, Bull, Joseph W., Carrero, Christina, Davies, Katharine, Hedges, Simon, Hoffmann, Michael, Long, Barney, Lughadha, Eimear M. Nic, Martin, Gabriel M., and others. (2021) Building robust, practicable counterfactuals and scenarios to evaluate the impact of species conservation interventions using inferential approaches. Biological Conservation, 261 . Article Number 109259. ISSN 0006-3207. (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109259) (KAR id:89661)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English

Download (1MB) Preview
[thumbnail of Grace_etal_2021_BiolCons.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL


Robust evaluation of the impact of biodiversity conservation actions is important not only for ensuring that conservation strategies are effective and maximise return on investment, but also to identify and celebrate successful conservation strategies. This evaluation can be retrospective (comparing the current situation to a counterfactual scenario) or forward-looking (comparing future scenarios with or without conservation). However, assessment of impact using experimental or quasi-experimental designs is typically difficult in conservation, so rigorous inferential approaches are required. Inferential assessment of impact is a key part of the new IUCN Green Status of Species, which greatly amplifies the need for standardised and practical species impact evaluation methods. Here, we use the Green Status of Species method as a base to review how inferential methods can be used to evaluate conservation impact at the species level. We identify three key components of the inferential impact evaluation process—estimation of scenario outcomes, selection of baseline scenario, and frame of reference—and explain, with examples, how to reduce the subjectivity of these steps. We propose a step-by-step guide, incorporating these principles, that can be used to infer scenario outcomes in order to evaluate past and future conservation impact in a wide range of situations, not just Green Status of Species assessments. We recommend that future non-experimental conservation interventions facilitate the process of evaluating impact by identifying the variable(s) that will be used to measure impact at the design stage, and by using conceptual models to help choose conservation actions most likely to have the desired impact.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109259
Uncontrolled keywords: Baseline; Dynamic baseline; Frame of reference; Green status of species; Inferential approaches; IUCN
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Joseph Bull
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2021 09:33 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2021 11:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Bull, Joseph W.:
  • Depositors only (login required):