Species Distributions, Land Values, and Efficient Conservation

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Efforts at species conservation in the United States have tended to be opportunistic and uncoordinated.Recently, however, ecologists and economists have begun to develop more systematic approaches. Here, the problem of efficiently allocating scarce conservation resources in the selection of sites for biological reserves is addressed. With the use of county-level data on land prices and the incidence of endangered species, it is shown that accounting for heterogeneity in land prices results in a substantial increase in efficiency in terms of either the cost of achieving a fixed coverage of species or the coverage attained from a fixed budget.

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