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AUSTRALIA: Nature Needs More explores test of UBI’s conservation outcomes

Nature Needs More, a wildlife conservation group based in Australia, is currently investigating the potential of basic income to help curb illegal hunting.

Founded in 2013 under the name Breaking The Brand, the group’s first advocacy and educational campaigns focused on curbing the demand for the products of illegal hunting, such as rhinoceros horns. As its work progressed, however, Breaking The Brand realized that its demand reduction campaigns could not be sufficient to stop illegal wildlife trade; successful wildlife conservation “needs more”.

Now called Nature Needs More, the organization is exploring new strategies, including a basic income pilot project designed to measure its effects on hunting and wildlife conservation.

Elephants in Namibia, CC BY-NC 2.0 Frans Vandewalle

Nature Needs More is inspired in part by the Basic Income Grant Pilot Project conducted in 2008 in the Namibian town of Otjivero. Prior to the introduction of the basic income grant, the local police station commander told researchers that poaching was the most common criminal activity, stating, “Poverty and unemployment are the reasons for these criminal activities. Otjivero is a tiny place and there is no source of income there. Most people hunt or poach just for survival.” In 2007, 20 instances of illegal hunting and trespassing were recorded between January 15 and October 31. In 2008, however, after the introduction of the basic income pilot, the count fell to only one instance during the same time period.

As Nature Needs More notes on its website, current basic income experiments–such as the 12-year randomized control trial that the non-profit GiveDirectly is due to launch in rural Kenya in September–are not linked to conservation outcomes.

Thus, the organization is considering the possibility of launching its own basic income experiment within the next two years.

Describing its hypothesis, Nature Needs More states, “Financial security would not only mean less poaching for food [and] less illegal harvesting … but would [also] mean wildlife trafficking syndicates would have less leverage to recruit poachers from the impoverished communities neighbouring key conservation areas.”

The organization is also exploring whether a basic income might help conservation areas convert to ecotourism as a revenue source.

Reviewed by Caroline Pearce

Rhino photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Martin Heigan

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

One comment

  • I.P.A. Manning

    I have long punted the establishment of the equivalent of the Alaska Provident Fund in Zambia so as to provide a basic income grant (BIG) for customary area villagers. Customary land takes up some 72% of the country and hosts an ever diminishing wildlife population – the black rhino now extinct, the elephant reduced over the last 40 years from 350,000 to 20,000. There is little doubt that BIG’s application would have a massively positive conservation outcome when married with the Commonwealth’s support for the Drawdown project. – especially as it targets the upliftment of women and girls. Interesting to hear of Namibia’s experiment, and now of Kenya’s. We have been punting a community trust within the Luembe customary area – a magnificent patch of Africa populated by small villages and gangs of poachers.

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