This study explores the potential of index insurance as a mechanism to finance community-based biodiversity conservation in areas where a strong correlation exists between natural disaster risk, keystone species populations, and the well-being of the local population. We illustrate this potential using the case of hornbill conservation in the Budo-Sungai Padi rainforests of southern Thailand, using 16-y hornbill reproduction data and 5-y household expenditures data reflecting local economic well-being. We show that severe windstorms cause both lower household expenditures and critical nest tree losses that directly constrain nesting capacity and so reduce the number of hornbill chicks recruited in the following breeding season. Forest residents' coping strategies further disturb hornbills and their forest habitats, compounding windstorms' adverse effects on hornbills' recruitment in the following year. The strong statistical relationship between wind speed and both hornbill nest tree losses and household expenditures opens up an opportunity to design wind-based index insurance contracts that could both enhance hornbill conservation and support disaster-affected households in the region. We demonstrate how such contracts could be written and operationalized and then use simulations to show the significant promise of unique insurance-based approaches to address weather-related risk that threatens both biodiversity and poor populations.
|PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - 2011