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Monitoring costs of result-based payments for biodiversity conservation: Will UAV-based remote sensing be the game-changer?

Schöttker, Oliver and Hütt, Christoph and Jauker, Frank and Witt, Johanna and Bareth, Georg and Wätzold, Frank (2022): Monitoring costs of result-based payments for biodiversity conservation: Will UAV-based remote sensing be the game-changer?

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Abstract

Paying landowners for conservation results rather than paying for the measures intended to provide such results is a promising approach for biodiversity conservation. However, a key roadblock for the widespread implementation of such result-based payment schemes are the frequent difficulties to monitor target species for whose presence a landowner is supposed to receive a remuneration. Until recently, the only conceivable monitoring approach would be conventional monitoring techniques, by which qualified experts investigate the presence of target species on-site. With the rise of remote sensing technologies, in particular increased capabilities and decreased costs of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), technological monitoring opportunities enter the scene. We analyse the costs of monitoring an ecological target of a hypothetical result-based payments scheme and compare the monitoring cost between conventional monitoring and UAV-assisted monitoring. We identify the underlying cost structure and cost components of both monitoring approaches and use a scenario analysis to identify the influence of factors like UAV and analysis costs, area size, and monitoring frequency. We find that although conventional monitoring is the least-cost monitoring approach today, future cost developments are likely to render UAV-assisted monitoring more cost-effective.

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