Crowdfunding supports biodiversity conservation around the world

By Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao

Crowdfunding is helping to protect iconic species such as the African elephant, black rhinoceros, and Bornean orangutan. This novel mechanism is enabling access to funding for conservation worldwide, a new University of Queensland-led study has revealed. This includes countries with high global conservation priorities, such as Indonesia and Costa Rica.

Lead author, PhD candidate in UQ’s School of Biological Sciences’ Fuller Lab  Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao said today’s crowdfunding had harnessed the power of the internet magnifying the power of public appeals to raise funds.

“Raising funds is critical for conserving biodiversity and anecdotal evidence had indicated that crowdfunding was being used to support a variety of conservation activities yet its magnitude and allocation were largely unknown,” he said.

Mr Gallo-Cajiao said the study found conservationists, including scientists and practitioners, have raised US$4.8M through crowdfunding since 2009, with projects delivered in 80 countries across all continents, supporting the conservation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

“208 species have been the explicit focus of crowdfunded projects, many of them iconic and of high conservation concern, such as the Orange-bellied parrot from southeastern Australia and the Vaquita porpoise from the Gulf of California”.

“Crowdfunded conservation projects are helping protect wilderness areas in remote areas of Tasmania, reduce killings of African lions in Tanzania, and conduct research that informs conservation of the Californian coast,” he said.

“Crowdfunding is supporting research and monitoring, management, as well as advocacy and outreach. For instance, a crowdfunded project supported the purchase and training of two Maremma sheepdogs to guard a penguin colony in southeastern Australia, protecting these flightless birds from fox predation.”

He said while crowdfunding is a mechanism for accessing funds, it also enables experimentation with novel ideas that could be replicated, but are difficult to fund through traditional sources which still provided the majority of support.

The study, published in Conservation Biology (https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13144) over the weekend, is co-authored by UQ’s Carla Archibald, Rachel Friedman, Rochelle Steven, and Professor Richard Fuller, and Edward Game of The Nature Conservancy, and Associate Professor Tiffany Morrison of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and Associate Professor Euan Ritchie of Deakin University.

Full reference of article:

Gallo-Cajiao, E., Archibald, C., Friedman, R., Stevens, R., Game, E., Morrison, T. H., Fuller, R. and E. Ritchie. In press. Crowdfunding biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13144

Follow Eduardo on twitter: @Gallo_Eduardo

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