Money or social norms, what motivates biodiversity conservation? Experimental evidence and expert forecasts

A research project financed by the Swedish Research Council

Loss of biodiversity is increasing at an alarming pace. Biodiversity is threatened by pollution, pesticides, deforestation, over-fishing and climate change. Incentive-based conservation polices such as conservation payments are therefore in the spotlight, both in academic and policy circles across the world. At present, there is however no systematic comparison of the effect of different incentives on conservation efforts. In this research project, we aim to evaluate the relative effectiveness of different monetary and non-monetary incentives to induce costly biodiversity conservation. For this, we will experimentally compare the effect of different incentives in two large-scale experiments, one online and one in the field, with several treatments including monetary and non-monetary incentives. In addition, we elicit forecasts by academics and policy practitioners regarding the effectiveness of the treatments through a survey, allowing us to compare empirical results to expectations. This project will provide evidence to the burning question: what motivates biodiversity conservation – money or social norms?