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CDTx EDG seminar series #4

Friday 14th February 3 pm,  Dr. Duan Biggs (UQ) will be presenting The wicked problem of conserving iconic species: making science and economic policy innovations relevant 

Conservation Scientists have spent the last three decades developing, researching, and evaluating ways in which biodiversity can generate funds to support its own conservation. Nature-based Tourism, Payment for Ecosystem Services, REDD, Integrated Conservation and Development Projects, Debt for Nature Swaps, Biodiversity Offsets etc. In addition, conservation NGOs are developing a plethora of ways to raise more funding. However, the tremendous markets for wildlife products, especially of iconic species such as rhino,  and the potential of legitimization of these markets to fund conservation continues to be ignored by the international conservation community. The value of the horn of the 1004 rhino poached in South Africa alone in 2013 on the black market is worth between US$250 and US$400 million.  This is approaching the annual income of large conservation NGOs such as WWF and TNC. The total value of the illegal trade in wildlife products is estimated at between US$6 and US$20 Billion annually.  There has been an explosion of market-based instruments for the environment and conservation over the past two decades – yet, the conservation community continues to shun any discussion of creating legal markets for wildlife products, especially of iconic species, to achieve conservation outcomes. Instead, policy discussions and funding all focus on strengthened enforcement against the illegal trade in wildlife products of iconic species despite the evidence of failure of this policy. In my talk I will explore why this is. I will propose a trans-disciplinary research agenda that considers alternative value systems and mental models of wildlife use and how the elicitation and analysis of these alternative mental models can contribute to policy innovations for the management of wildlife trade to lead to conservation outcomes.   This is a research theme that I am developing and I look forward to critical input and discussions with potentially interested collaborators to take this forward.

CSIRO’s Ecoscience’s precinct – and beers will be available at CSIRO after the talk!

More about our speaker:

Duan is from South Africa and completed his PhD at the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia in 2011 on the resilience of coral reef tourism to global change and crises. Duan holds an MsC in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town and has a trans-disciplinary undergraduate training with majors in Economics, Development Studies and Environmental Science. Duan has developed, coordinated and consulted to projects for BirdLife International, Conservational International and WWF among others. Subsequent to his PhD developed a tourism research program for South African National Parks to support decision-making and management of the trade-offs and synergies between conservation and tourism.

In March 2012, Duan started a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions where his research focuses on the socio-economic aspects of conservation decision-making and management and operationalizing resilience ideas for biodiversity conservation. The geographic focus of his work is Australia, Chile, South Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and south-east Asia. He also leads specialist nature and wildlife tours to destinations around the world.


1. Biggs, D.; Courchamp F.C.; Martin, R; Possingham, H.P. 2013. Rhino poaching: supply and demand uncertain-response Science 340: 1168-1169
2. Biggs, D. In Press. Birding, Sustainability and Ecotourism, pages 394 to 404 in the International Handbook of Ecotourism edited by Roy Ballantyne and Jan Packer. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
3. Biggs, D.; Courchamp F.C.; Martin, R; Possingham, H.P. 2013. Legal Trade of Africa’s Rhino Horns. Science 339:1038-1039

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