Stirling research evaluates effectiveness of conservation efforts

November 23, 2020

New research from the University of Stirling into the effectiveness of international conservation projects could help to save endangered species from extinction.

The research, led by Laura Thomas-Walters of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, has published in respected journal, People and Nature. It focussed on evaluating a conservation campaign in São Tomé and Principe, that aimed to persuade local people to stop eating sea turtle meat and eggs.

Animal conservation faces a number of challenges, including climate change and the wildlife trade, and both time and money pressures. Knowing what measures work best and are most appropriate is essential to delivering effective conservation activity, but previous efforts to evaluate projects have encountered difficulties and delivered varying results.

The Stirling research team sought to address those difficulties by exploring better ways to evaluate conservation projects that work to change human behaviour. The team conducted interviews and completed surveys with local people to determine if the campaign, which used tactics including television advertisements and cooking competitions, had been successful in reducing their consumption of sea turtles.

Laura Thomas-Walters, research project lead, said: "In conservation we are faced with a whole host of pressing issues that human actions cause, but we are short on time and money. Evaluating our projects is really important if we want to learn from them and improve future interventions.

"Unusually, for this research we measured both behavioural outcomes like attitudes or consumption, and conservation impacts, like sea turtle poaching. We found a decrease in self-reported sea turtle egg consumption and a decrease in the poaching of adult sea turtles.

"However, a simultaneous increase in law enforcement targeted at poaching may also have impacted the figures. Our recommendations for future projects include combining different outcome measures to triangulate hard-to-measure behaviours, and using theory-based evaluation methods."

The campaign, 'Tataluga - Mém Di Omali', which means "Sea Turtle - Mother of the Sea" in the local Forrô dialect featured community events, such as cooking contests to promote alternative food products, and theatre performances, as well as a football competition. It also utilised mass media, including billboards, and television and radio adverts.

The Stirling team interviewed local people about their habits and sea turtle consumption, both before and after the campaign took place. The number of people who indicated they ate sea turtle eggs decreased from 40 per cent to 11 per cent during the campaign but this may also have been due to increased anti-poaching law enforcement.
-end-
The research was funded by the Rufford Foundation, Lisbon Oceanarium, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Research partners from Programa Tatô in São Tomé, and the University of Oxford were involved.

University of Stirling

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.