Global patterns and trends in human–wildlife conflict compensation
Human–wildlife conflict is a major conservation challenge, and compensation for wildlife damage is a widely used economic tool to mitigate this conflict. The effectiveness of this management tool is widely debated. The relative importance of factors associated with compensation success is unclear, and little is known about global geographic or taxonomic differences in the application of compensation programs. We reviewed research on wildlife‐damage compensation to determine geographic and taxonomic gaps, analyze patterns of positive and negative comments related to compensation, and assess the relative magnitude of global compensation payments. We analyzed 288 publications referencing wildlife compensation and identified 138 unique compensation programs. These publications reported US$222 million (adjusted for inflation) spent on compensation in 50 countries since 1980. Europeans published the most articles, and compensation funding was highest in Europe, where depredation by wolves and bears was the most frequently compensated damage. Authors of the publications we reviewed made twice as many negative comments as positive comments about compensation. Three‐quarters of the negative comments related to program administration. Conversely, three‐quarters of the positive comments related to program outcomes. The 3 most common suggestions to improve compensation programs included requiring claimants to employ damage‐prevention practices, such as improving livestock husbandry or fencing of crops to receive compensation (n = 25, 15%); modifying ex post compensation schemes to some form of outcome‐based performance payment (n = 21, 12%); and altering programs to make compensation payments more quickly (n = 14, 8%). We suggest that further understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of compensation as a conflict‐mitigation tool will require more systematic evaluation of the factors driving these opinions and that differentiating process and outcomes and understanding linkages between them will result in more fruitful analyses and ultimately more effective conflict mitigation.
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