Non-material costs of wildlife conservation to local people and their implications for conservation interventions

Gladman Thondhlana* (Corresponding Author), Stephen Mark Redpath, Pål Olav Vedeld, Lily van Eden, Unai Pascual, Kate Sherren, Chenai Murata

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


In assessment of costs (and benefits) of wildlife conservation, conventional economic valuation frameworks may inadequately address various non-tangible values and neglect social, cultural and political contexts of resources and their use. Correspondingly, there seems to be much more focus on quantifying the economic, material benefits and costs of wildlife conservation than the non-material aspects that also affect human well-being. In addition, current research on the costs of wildlife conservation tends to be discipline-focused which constrains comparability, often causing conceptual ambiguity. This paper is an attempt to address this ambiguity. While there is growing acknowledgement of the material costs of wildlife conservation, we contend that employing a broader, composite social well-being approach may provide better conceptual insights on—and practical options for—managing various non-material impacts of wildlife conservation for local people. Non-material impacts such as negative physical or psychological experiences, trauma, feelings of fear and anxiety cannot directly be measured by or converted to money but such impacts still lead to human ill-being. Thus, taking these impacts into account is critical for the broader sustainability of wildlife conservation, making understanding and addressing them a key socio-ecological issue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108578
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date5 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by a Newton Fund Researcher Links Travel Grant, ID 2018-RLTG10-10389, under the UK-South Africa partnership. The grant is funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and South Africa Department of Higher Education and Technology and delivered by the British Council. For further information, please visit GT thanks the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust for a sabbatical grant, which allowed time for writing the paper and the Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen and the Department of International Environment and Development (Noragric), Norwegian University of Life Sciences, for hosting him.


  • Human well-being
  • Interventions
  • Management
  • Non-material costs
  • Wildlife conservation


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