Benefits of the ballot box for species conservation

Kailin Kroetz, James N. Sanchirico, Paul R. Armsworth, H. Spencer Banzhaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Recent estimates reaffirm that conservation funds are insufficient to meet biodiversity conservation goals. Organisations focused on biodiversity conservation therefore need to capitalise on investments that societies make in environmental protection that provide ancillary benefits to biodiversity. Here, we undertake the first assessment of the potential ancillary benefits from the ballot box in the United States, where citizens vote on referenda to conserve lands for reasons that may not include biodiversity directly but that indirectly might enhance biodiversity conservation. Our results suggest that referenda occur in counties with significantly greater biodiversity than counties chosen at random. We also demonstrate that large potential gains for conservation are possible if the past and likely future outcomes of these ballot box measures are directly incorporated into national-scale conservation planning efforts. The possible synergies between ballot box measures and other biodiversity conservation efforts offer an under-utilised resource for supporting conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-302
Number of pages9
JournalEcology letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Conservation movement
  • Endangered species
  • Integer programming
  • Open space
  • Referenda
  • Reserve site selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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