Conservation Finance Roundtable

Looking forward to discussing the design and application of conservation finance models for a low carbon future at this upcoming Roundtable

Promise and Peril: Design and Application of Conservation Finance Models to Biodiversity Conservation, Human Well-being and Sustainability


This will include a public event this Sunday evening

Financing a Sustainable Future

Joseph & Rosalie Segal Centre, SFU Harbour Centre

Please join us for an evening gathering of conservation finance and investment communities in Vancouver—together with academics, NGOs, and citizens interested in sustainable finance and conservation investment opportunities. The evening will feature three speakers delivering 15 min talks highlighting regional and international examples of impact investments that support biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Talks will be followed by a panel discussion with questions from the audience. You will have the opportunity to visit with presenters, regional groups engaged in conservation finance, and guests during a no-host social.


7:00 – Welcome – Peter Arcese, UBC
7:05 – Conservation Finance, Private Capital, and Sustainability: Using the Tools of Finance for Conservation – John Tobin, Cornell
7:20 – From Tree Planting to Economic Development with Smallholder Farmers- Kahlil Baker, Taking Root
7:35 – Perspectives on ten years of conservation financing in the Great Bear Rainforest – Brodie Guy, Coast Funds
7:50 – Financing Fisheries’ Sustainability – Opportunities and Challenges: Kelly Wachowicz, Catch Invest
8:05  – Panel Discussion
8:20 – 9:00 No host social (via Habour Centre Staff)

Peter Wall Institute International Research Roundtable

This roundtable will explore current initiatives and strategies needed to successfully scale-up conservation finance. A comprehensive understanding of barriers and benefits to private sector conservation finance requires engaging researchers from multiple disciplines, jurisdictions and perspectives.  Despite much evidence that private investment has the potential to transform biodiversity conservation and support sustainable livelihoods, many aspects of this emerging field remain poorly understood.

This roundtable will engage thought-leaders in ecology, finance, policy, law, and social sciences to identify knowledge gaps, overcome existing hurdles and potential pitfalls. For example, it remains unclear how the outcomes of conservation projects should be articulated; i.e., at what point is re-claimed land ‘restored’? A lack of a common framework for monitoring and evaluating such projects points out a critical need to ensure accountability and transparency. It is also unclear at what scale projects must be implemented to deliver sustainable environmental, social and financial outcomes. Likewise, how can accountability frameworks assure investors that projects avoid negative outcomes or externalities sometimes associated with protectionist approaches to land conservation, such as by creating parks that dispossess Indigenous people of land or natural capital. Strategies to minimize costs and overcome hurdles linked to transaction size, market volatility, and risk mitigation are also needed to scale up conservation investment.

Time to end unconscious bias in ecology

This week, colleague Julia Baum (UVic) and I published a response in Nature Ecology & Evolution to Franck Courchamp and Corey Bradshaws ‘100 articles every ecologist must read’.  In their paper, Courchamp and Bradshaw present a highly gender and racially biased list in which 97 of 100 selected articles are first authored by white men. Only two articles are led by women (Camille Parmesan and Mary Power); these are ranked last. One paper is led by a non-white man (Motoo Kimura). Compounding the list’s lack of diversity is its domination by a small number of scientists: 22 of the articles are first authored by only three white men (Robert MacArthur, Bob May and David Tilman), and a further 35 articles are led by only 15 additional white men. We do not dispute that these men have made exceptional contributions to our field. What we do contend is that this list has failed to capture ecology’s diversity of exceptional scientists. This is a result of a flawed sampling design which does not reflect who ecologists are or what they study. Through poor design, their study disproportionately sampled white senior men…and the result…their list is dominated by white senior men authors. We believe that failure to consider and account for these biases in their study design is a result of pervasive unconscious bias in our field.

Download PDF here



Keynote Mat-Su Salmon Science & Conservation Symposium, Alaska

Mat-Su symposium 2017-1

‘Tax-shifting’ – a new way of funding conservation on private land

Many of our most endangered species and ecosystems occur on private lands.  In a new paper published today in Conservation Letters we explore a novel ‘tax-shifting’ approach to conservation on private lands that would offer incentives to private land owners to maintain or enhance biodiversity and maximize the efficiency of conservation investments. Our findings suggest that modest shifts in tax policies may offer an efficient route to conserving Species at Risk in highly populated biodiversity hotspots.

Schuster, R., Law, E.A., Rodewalde, A.D., Martin, T.G., Wilson, K.A., Watts, M., Possingham, H.P., Arcese, P. 2017. Tax-shifting and incentives for biodiversity conservation on private lands. Conservation Letters Online Early PDF

Yellow Island magic

Wilburforce Fellowship, Tucson Arizona

Just back from a transformational week with the 2017 Wilburforce Fellows, COMPASS trainers and leading science journalists.  What a brilliant group of inspiring humans!  For those working in Western North America, the next round of applications will be for 2019 – mark it in your calendar to apply


Delighted to be among the 2017 Wilburforce Fellows!

I’m thrilled to be among the 2017 Wilburforce Fellows!  The Wilburforce Fellowship is a year-long program providing leadership and science communication training, along with coaching and support, to scientists from a wide range of affiliations, career stages, and disciplines. The Wilburforce Fellowship was designed for scientists who want to be agents of change for conservation. The Fellowship builds a community of practice where scientists are advancing decision-relevant research, effectively communicating scientific findings, and contributing to conservation solutions by engaging with local communities, policymakers, land managers and those with diverse perspectives.

More on the program here:

And the 2017 program here:


Observed impact of climate change from genes to biomes to people

Published today in Science, in collaboration with a large international team, we illustrate the evidence of observed impacts of climate change across genes, species, and ecosystems. Importantly, in this comprehensive overview, we discuss how these impacts have direct consequences for people.

Download PDF

Global climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems. We now have evidence that, with only a ~1 degree Celsius of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt in natural systems.  In fact, more than 80 percent of ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of responses to climate change. Genes are changing, species’ physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are shifting their ranges and we see clear signs of entire ecosystems under stress, all in response to changes in climate on land and in the ocean. Many of the impacts on species and ecosystems affect people, with consequences ranging from increased pests and disease outbreaks, unpredictable changes in fisheries, and decreasing agriculture yields. Many of the responses we are observing today in nature can help us determine how to fix the mounting issues that people face under changing climate conditions.  For example, by understanding the role of nature in buffering the negative impacts of climate change along with its adaptive capacity, we can use this knowledge to minimize the risks of catastrophic climate events such as floods and fire and adapt our forestry and agricultural practices to ensure food and resource security.

Following the US election results, it is crucial that the conservation community advocates for their science and pushes politicians and governments to follow the science on climate change.




Guidelines for assessing vulnerability to climate change

iucn_logo-svgJust released – Guidelines for assessing species vulnerability to climate change

Download here:

These guidelines cover and outline of some of the terms commonly used in climate change vulnerability assessment (CCVA), and describe three dominant CCVA approaches, namely correlative (niche-based), mechanistic and trait-based approaches. We discuss how to set clear, measurable CCVA objectives and how to select CCVA approaches and associated methods that are appropriate for meeting these objectives. We then provide ways for users to evaluate their data, knowledge and technical resources, and subsequently refine their approach and method selection.

Hasten end of fossil fuel subsidies

end-subsidies-oildrumNations at last month’s G20 summit in China reaffirmed their 2009 commitment to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies, echoing a call from almost two decades ago to end subsidies that are “adverse in the long run to both the economy and the environment” (N. Myers Nature 392, 327–328; 1998).

Similar ‘perverse’ subsidies continue to encourage logging of the few remaining pockets of old-growth forest in western Canada and overfishing in the high seas. Yet the fossil-fuel industry receives the largest subsidy of all, estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year at US$1,000 annually for every citizen in the G20 group. Most of this is provided by countries with energy taxes that are too low to cover the adverse effects of fossil-fuel consumption on human health and the environment (

The IMF also estimates that eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies would cut global carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20% and raise government revenues by $2.9 trillion (or 3.6% of global gross domestic product). Such a step would save up to $93 per tonne of greenhouse-gas emissions removed (see

These sums alone would fund climate adaptation and the protection of imperilled global biodiversity for the next 30 years (D. P. McCarthy et al. Science 338, 946–949; 2012). The money would also boost development of renewable energy sources and domestic support for a low-carbon economy.

Tara Martin Department of Forest and Conservation Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Reference: Martin, T.G. 2016. Policy: Hasten end of dated fossil-fuel subsidies. Nature 538:171-171. PDF

Open Access Link

Timing of habitat protection matters

Published today in Conservation Letters, we develop a method for determining the time at which habitat protection must occur, despite uncertainty, in order to avoid an unacceptable risk of extinction.

Martin T.G., Camaclang A.E., Possingham H.P., Maguire L., Chadès I. (2016) Timing of critical habitat protection matters. Conservation Letters In Press, DOI: 10.1111/conl.12266. PDF


It may be tempting to assume that more information is of value for its own sake, in a decision-making context information has value only when it leads to a change in actions taken, specifically, a change with enough benefit to species protection to outweigh the cost of obtaining the information. In the often contentious environment of endangered species decision making, parties who benefit from delay in taking action often lobby strategically for more information, not because they are concerned for the efficacy of protective actions but because their interests are best served by delaying protection as long as possible. In this environment, reminding everyone that more information does not always translate into more efficacious action may help strike a better balance between action and research. When it comes to species conservation, time is the resource that matters most. It is also the resource we cannot get more of.

Northern Abalone_Janna Nichols

Timing of critical habitat protection matters for British Columbia’s Northern Abalone – Photo Janna Nichols