We will highlight experiences doing research in the Makira Natural Park, northeastern Madagascar that investigated the ecosystem provisioning service value of wildlife as food and botanical ethnomedicines. Understanding the monetary value of faunal and floral biodiversity in this region may help to understand the local conservation psychology and what motivates people to harvest beyond the limits of sustainability. Specifically, our results provide an estimate of the cost of offsetting economic losses to local populations from the enforcement of conservation policies. By explicitly estimating the welfare effects of consumed wildlife, our results may inform targeted interventions by public health and development specialists as they allocate sparse funds to support regions, households, or individuals most vulnerable to changes in access to wildlife.
The widespread harvest of wildlife for human consumption is a major ecosystem service that provides benefits to tens of millions of rural poor. Yet, the harvest of wildlife for food and sale is decimating wildlife populations around the world, notably leading to a 50% decline in wildlife globally as recently noted in the State of Nature report. In areas of Africa, where the majority of harvested wildlife is sold, studies of the value of harvested wildlife commonly entail analysis of commercial markets rather than nonmarket valuation techniques. Researchers have also used market reports to determine the national or regional value of wildlife harvested each year. Neither approach accounts for the large fraction of locally consumed wildlife that is not part of cash or noncash markets. Thus, market-based studies of harvested wildlife evaluate only part of the amount extracted and ignore the often large subsistence values. By understanding the subsistence value of the forest, we can understand the motivations for extraction by those who ultimately control the fate of the forest.
Participatory research of biodiversity targets with communities, community natural resource regulations, participatory monitoring of biodiversity targets, market incentives linked to sustainable practices (i.e. sustainable chicken husbandry), collaboration with involved stakeholders and NGO/government partners, potential payment for ecosystem services schemes.
Balancing local needs for welfare and livelihoods is a necessary first step to conservation success.