Who Does Conservation Best?

The U.S. has ranked 19th on a list of top-performing countries for conservation efforts, coming in behind others such as Norway, Canada and Costa Rica. In the top five were four African countries that incorporate sustainable use in their wildlife management models: Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

For a recent study, the wildlife research unit from Oxford University created the Megafauna Conservation Index. This index judges each country’s performance in conservation based on the overall distribution of animals compared to the total area of a country, the proportion of animal habitat that is protected, and the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) that is attributed to conservation. In other words, the three components are ecological, political and financial factors.

Top performers differed by the category. Denmark, Italy, Canada, Namibia and Switzerland gave the largest proportion of their GDP to conservation, but North America had larger proportions of protected land.

The U.S. narrowly made it into the top 20. The performance for the ecological component kept the country from receiving a higher place. To improve the score, the study suggests reclaiming landscapes to expand wild habitats so that the distribution of megafauna will improve.

The Oxford group foresees the importance of a concrete index to help countries measure progress and seek directed improvement for conservation initiatives in the future.

Source: Global Ecology and Conservation

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