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Abstract

This case study concentrates on the extent of knowledge of members of the Australian public of Australia’s tropical bird species and their willingness to pay for their conservation. In order to place this issue in context, it first provides background information on the status of Australian bird species, focusing attention on species that occur in tropical Australia. Then, using survey results, this study considers the hypothesis that the public’s relative support for the conservation of different bird species depends on its comparative knowledge of their existence and status. Based on experimental results from a sample of residents of Brisbane, Queensland (Australia), it is found that their knowledge of bird species that occur exclusively in the Australian tropics (including tropical Queensland) is very poor compared to those that also occur in the Brisbane area and are relatively common. Experimental results indicate that when respondents in the sample had an option to allocate $1,000 between ten bird species listed in the survey, it resulted in a greater allocation of funds to the better known and more common species than when they were provided with balanced information about all the selected species. With balanced information the average allocation to bird species confined mostly to the Australian tropics, particularly those threatened or endangered, increased. The general consequences of this for policies for the conservation of birds are discussed.

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