We assessed the socio-economic impacts of the “Reason for Hope” LIFE+ conservation project supported by the EU that helps to reintroduce the Northern Bald Ibis endangered bird species by involving many stakeholders and addressing relevant threats in Austria, Germany and Italy. The project also impacted on other species by tackling key threats such as poaching, electrocution and environmental crime. Our role was to find out how the targeted sectors and stakeholder groups of the project (e.g. hunters, nature conservationists, tourism) benefited from the project and how other fields or social-economic aspects were influenced positively or negatively. Our analysis were implemented by surveying hundreds of stakeholders, interviewing experts and collect statistical and communication data. With our research questions, we did not only aim to explore the direct and indirect financial and social benefits and impacts (e.g. increased income, investments, cooperation links), but also to dig further to find information on attitude change and sustainability of the project results.
Based on our assessment, the outcomes and expert opinions depicted a LIFE+ project with impressive results. Apart from delivering high on the conservation objectives, the project also proved to be successful considering socio-economic benefits, while numerous stakeholders profited from the project directly and indirectly (e.g. growing public support of nature conservation, elevated hunters’ awareness, increased ecotourism development, extended stakeholder-cooperation, boosted public safety and the integration of the ibis into the local culture). The results and further outcomes, such as the communication reach exceeding millions of people, significant scientific successes as well as the contribution to various policies, justify the support of this project and provide an exemplary case for future LIFE projects about how conservation projects deliver multiple benefits and how protected species can become the pride of local communities.
Read more about the project here: http://waldrapp.eu/index.php/en/en-home