Conservation Strategy Fund helps local conservationists use economic tools to find smart, efficient solutions to the most urgent environmental problems. Since its creation in 1998, CSF has conducted dozens of analysis projects in forests, rivers and coastal environments. Most of our work has focused in the tropics, where extraordinarily high levels of biological diversity are found. To maximize the reach and quality of our work, we involve leading experts and conservation organizations in all of our projects.

Volcán Baru National Park and the Quetzal Trail

In 2003, three road investments were proposed in the vicinity of the Barú Volcano National Park in the province of Chiriquí: (1) a one-lane road from Cerro Punta to Boquete, via the Park; (2) the so-called “southern route” outside the park, from Cuesta de Piedra to Boquete via Palmira; and (3) paving the access roads as far as the guard stations at the Park’s Eastern and Western entrances (see figure 2). Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) conducted an economic analysis of the proposals between February and April, 2003. We employed the “Roads Economic Decision Model,” developed by the World Bank in 1999. The research was jointly funded by the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International (CI), and was one of several factors that led to cancellation of the proposed road through the park. The lower-impact "Southern Route" was selected instead.

Amazon Forest Fires

CSF worked with Brazil 2000 course participant, Ricardo de Assis Mello, a researcher with IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute), to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of alternative agricultural methods aimed at preventing destructive forest fires.

Farmers in the Eastern Amazon see few alternatives to the traditional slash and burn agricultural. As a direct consequence, in the states of Pará and Mato Grosso, the area of forest burned by accidental fires is greater than the amount of land intentionally burned for agriculture. Ricardo worked with IPAM as part of a World Bank Pilot Program for Tropical Forest Protection that aims to develop no-burn agricultural clearing methods.

Paraguay-Paraná Waterway

This study presents an analysis of the implications of proposed upgrades to the Paraguay-Paraná waterway on the Mato Grosso State soybean transportation. The waterway passes through the vast and biologically rich Pantanal wetlands, shared by Bolivia and Brazil. Social cost-benefit analyses were carried out for 4 distinct scenarios. The results cast doubt on the feasibility of waterway improvements, mostly due to environmental externalities and to limitations on cargo transfer to the waterway route.

Jalapão Water Diversion

Three Brazil 2000 course participants not previously acquainted worked together to analyze potential impacts of water diversion from the Tocantins River in central Brazil. The project would have diverted water from the Tocantins in the Jalapáo region, a unique transition zone between Cerrado woodland and caatinga. The water would be pumped into Brazil's arid Northeast for irrigation and hydroelectric power. Fani Mamede, formerly of IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, Paulo Garcia, a conservationist working with the municipality of Mateiros and Wilson Cabral, an engineer at the Sáo Paulo-based Technology and Aeronautics Institute, performed an analysis of the project's potentially extensive environmental and economic impacts.

Pantanal Scenic Parkway

The Pantanal in southwest Brazil is the world's largest continuous wetland, extending for over 140,000 square kilometers and host to a spectacular array of flora and fauna. Among the 650+ species of birds and over 80 species of mammals are parrots, toucans, jaguar, maned wolf, giant otter, and capybara. CSF is helped former course participants Leonardo Hasenclever and Eduardo Garcia conduct a contingent valuation study of tourism on the Pantanal Scenic Parkway to determine its potential for generating conservation revenue. Ninety-nine percent of the Pantanal is privately owned, mostly by large cattle ranchers whose herds graze the native grasses sustainalby.

Expanding the Panama Canal

CSF helped the Centro de Asistencia Legal Popular (CEALP) analyze plans to expand the Panama Canal. After participating in a CSF training in 1999, CEALP lawyer Erya Harbar proposed a legal and economic analysis of infrastructure that would effect both natural ecosystems and campesino communities. The study examined the economic efficiency and equity of the proposed $8 billion expansion proposed in 1999. The proposal involves three new dams plus aqueducts, transmission lines and roads in a remote 500,000-acre area of forest and small towns. The goal of CSF's work with CEALP was to inform affected rural communities and stimulate consideration of the financial and environmental tradeoffs of canal expansion in the national policy debate on the issue.

Amarakaeri Indigenous Reserve

Working with Peruvian biologist Carmela Landeo, CSF helped examine the real economic impact of roads and logging on Amazonian indigenous communities. Landeo, who participated in CSF's first training in 1999, studied changes wrought in the forest and in household incomes where industrial timber extraction has drawn indigenous villages toward the cash economy. Landeo studied the communities of Shintuya and Shipeteari, both on the fringes of the Manu National Park and the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.

Paracas Reserve

Paracas National Reserve in Peru is home to several species of sea lions, otters, vast anchovetta schools, blue-footed boobies, Inca terns, pink flamingos, pelicans, dolphins and large stocks of scallops. The large reserve has been bolstered in recent years by a volunteer park ranger program, which brings in students to maintain the protected area, clean the beaches and provide outreach to nearby communities. Despite its many contributions, funding for this program is constantly in doubt. In 2000, Course graduate Cecilia Rivas, a biologist and now a professor at the San Ignacio de Loyola University, used skills she learned from CSF to demonstrate the value of the volunteers.

Photo of yellow fishing boat on beach in Abrolhos

Abrolhos Marine Reserve Economic Monitoring

Abrolhos literally means "eye opener". The Abrolhos reef in Brazil won its name because of its unique coral formations and because its shallow waters are frequented by large numbers of reproducing humpback whales. The peculiar mushroom-shaped coral heads there are composed mostly of species completely unique to Abrolhos. The high degree of species "endemism" (uniqueness) is a result of Abrolhos' total isolation from other coral reefs.

Roads and Dams in Madidi and Pilón-Lajas, Bolivia

The region of Northwest Bolivia where the Andes meet the Amazon plain is considered by some to be a rich natural treasure and by others to be under-developed. In 1995, the Bolivian government officially protected 1.8 million hectares of rain forest, cloud forest, rare deciduous forest and an array of plant and animal species nearly unsurpassed in the world's nature reserves.