Richard E. Rice, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and President, Conservation Agreement Fund

Dr. Richard Rice has over 25 years experience in natural resource and public policy analysis, most recently at Conservation International where he served as chief economist. While at Conservation International, he conducted extensive research on the costs and effectiveness of different approaches to biodiversity conservation in the tropics and supervised projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has published widely on the viability of sustainable forest management and has worked on the development and implementation of incentive-based conservation agreements, an approach to conservation involving annual payments for the acquisition of development rights in priority habitats.

Prior to joining Conservation International, Dr. Rice worked on the economics of public land use policies in the United States with The Wilderness Society, Resources for the Future, Inc. and the U.S. Department of the Interior. In addition to his work with the Conservation Agreement Fund, Dr. Rice is currently consulting and teaching economics at the University of Maryland University College. Dr. Rice holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Grinnell College and a master’s in Applied Economics and Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan.

Key Publications

Rice, R. E. 2017. Market-Based Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation: An Overview of Experience in Developed and Developing Countries. Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene. Elsevier. Science Direct. 

Bruner, Aaron, E. Niesten, and R. Rice. 2010. “Misaligned Incentives and Trade-offs in Allocating Conservation Funding.” Chapter 11 in Nigel Leader-Williams, William M. Adams, and Robert, J. Smith (eds.). Trade-offs in Conservation. Blackwell Publishing, Ltd: Malaysia.

Hardner, Jared, J. and Richard E. Rice. 2002. “Rethinking Green Consumerism.” Scientific American. Vol. 287:89-95, May.

A.G. Bruner, R.E. Gullison, R.E. Rice and G.A.B da Fonseca. 2001. “Effectiveness of Parks in Protecting Tropical Biodiversity.” Science. Vol. 291: 125-128, January 5.

R.E. Gullison, R.E. Rice and A.G. Blundell. 2000. “Marketing Species Conservation.” Nature. Vol. 404:923-924, April 27.

Bowles, Ian A., Richard E. Rice, Russell A. Mittermeier, G.A.B. da Fonseca. 1998. “Logging and Tropical Forest Conservation.” Science. Vol.280:1899-1900, June 19.

Rice, Richard E., Raymond E. Gullison and John W. Reid. 1997. Can Sustainable Forest Management Save Tropical Forests?” Scientific American. Vol. 276:34-39, April.

Christopher Filardi, Ph.D.

Biodiversity Scientist for Pacific Programs, American Museum of Natural History

Dr. Christopher Filardi joined the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) in the summer of 2005 as a biodiversity scientist for Pacific programs. Chris has a long history of work in conservation, education, and research in the Pacific region. He has conducted research to expand CITES protection of the palm cockatoo in Papua New Guinea and helped create one of the first community-based wildlife reserves in that country. He has also studied radiations of Pacific birds to clarify boundaries among species and to begin unraveling the origins of pan-Pacific bird groups.

Throughout his professional career, Chris has maintained a commitment to combining his research interests with grassroots conservation. While not in the tropical Pacific, he has helped establish undergraduate programs that integrate indigenous communities with wildlands conservation in Central America and the Pacific Northwest. His current work at the CBC includes initiating seabird research on Palmyra atoll; and expanding his research and conservation work in the Solomon Islands. Chris received his Ph.D. in 2003 from the University of Washington, where he studied patterns of speciation and the biogeographic history of tropical Pacific flycatchers.

For More Information

Key Publications

Filardi, C. E., and C. E. Smith. 2005. “Molecular phylogenetics of monarch flycatchers (genus Monarcha) with emphasis on Solomon Islands endemics.”  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 37(3): 776-778.

Filardi, C. E., and R. G. Moyle. 2005. “Single origin of a pan-Pacific bird group and upstream colonization of Australasia.”  Nature. 438: 216-219.

Filardi, C. E., and J. Tewksbury. 2005. “Ground-foraging palm cockatoos (Probosciger aterrimus) in lowland New Guinea: fruit flesh as a directed deterrent to seed predation?”  Journal of Tropical Ecology. 21: 355-361.

Filardi, C. E., C. E. Smith, A. W. Kratter, D. W. Steadman, and H. P. Webb. 1999. “New behavioral, ecological, and biogeographic data on the avifauna of Rennell, Solomon Islands.” Pacific Science. 53(4): 319-340.

Eduard T. Niesten, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Conservation Stewards Program, Conservation International

Dr. Eduard Niesten directs the Conservation Stewards Program at Conservation International. Dr. Niesten received his Ph.D. in Applied Economics from Stanford University. Before joining CI, he worked as Senior Consultant at WEFA and as Associate with Hardner and Gullison Associates, where much of his work concentrated on feasibility studies and cost assessments for conservation incentive agreements throughout the tropics.

Since 2000 Dr. Niesten has worked with Conservation International on the use of direct incentives to achieve biodiversity conservation, including implementation of incentive-based projects and producing research publications to promote awareness and understanding of such approaches. He leads the Conservation Stewards Program in implementing conservation agreements in a broad portfolio of projects across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This portfolio includes 51 conservation agreements that improve standards of living for resource-dependent communities and achieve conservation objectives in broad range of habitats, benefitting nearly 35,000 people and conserving nearly 1.5 million hectares of natural habitat. Dr. Niesten’s experience ranges from negotiating agreements with villagers in remote regions of Cambodia to designing a trust fund for the Sovi Basin in Fiji to training local NGOs in Liberia to securing finance from large private sector corporations.

Key Publications

Niesten, E., P. Zurita and S. Banks. 2010. “Conservation Agreements as a Tool to Generate Direct Incentives for Biodiversity Conservation.” Biodiversity 11:5-8.

Gjertsen, H. and E. Niesten, 2010. “Incentive-based Approaches in Marine Conservation: Applications for Sea Turtles.” Conservation and Society 8: 5-14.

Milne, S. and E. Niesten. 2009. “Direct payments for biodiversity conservation in developing countries: practical insights for design and implementation.” Oryx 43: 530-541.

Niesten, E., and R. Rice. 2006. “Conservation Incentive Agreements as an Alternative to Tropical Forest Exploitation.” Chapter 24 in William F. Laurance and Carlos A. Peres (eds.). Emerging Threats to Tropical Forests.  University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

Niesten, E., R. Rice, and M. Erdmann. 2005. “Conservation Incentive Agreements as a Tool for Developing and Managing MPAs.” MPA News. Vol. 7(4), October.

Niesten, E., S. Ratay, and R. Rice. 2004.  “Achieving biodiversity conservation using conservation concessions to complement agroforestry.” Chapter 7 In G. Schroth, G.A.B. da Fonseca, C.A. Harvey, C. Gascon, H.L. Vasconcelos and A.M.N. Izac (eds.). Agroforestry and Biodiversity Conservation in Tropical Landscapes.  Island Press, Washington, DC.

Aaron Bruner

Director of Economics and Planning Program, Conservation International

Aaron Bruner is Director of the Economics and Planning Program at Conservation International. His work focuses on helping decision makers to incorporate ecosystem services and markets for those services into their development strategies. He works on protected area management, incentive-based conservation agreements, and green economic development planning. With more than 10 years of experience in international conservation, he has also worked extensively on issues ranging from costs and benefits of specific conservation strategies, economic analyses of forest management strategies, and increasing the contribution of the tourism industry to biodiversity conservation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wesleyan University.

Key Publications

Bruner, Aaron, E. Niesten, and R. Rice. 2010. “Misaligned Incentives and Trade-offs in Allocating Conservation Funding.” Chapter 11 in Nigel Leader-Williams, William M. Adams, and Robert, J. Smith (eds.). Trade-offs in Conservation. Blackwell Publishing, Ltd: Malaysia.

Bruner, A., L. Pabon-Zamora, N. Conner. 2009. “Weighing the benefits and costs of protected areas.” In TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers – Summary: Responding to the Value of Nature.

Bruner, A., R. Gullison, A. Balmford. 2004. “Financial costs and shortfalls of managing and expanding protected-area systems in developing countries.” BioScience. 54: 1119 – 1126.

Bruner, A.G., R.E. Gullison, R.E. Rice and G.A.B da Fonseca. 2001.  “Effectiveness of Parks in Protecting Tropical Biodiversity.”  Science. 291: 125-128.

Thomas F. Hill

Trustee, Maasailand Preservation Trust, Kenya

Tom Hill received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. His career as a business and social entrepreneur spans more than forty years. He assisted Dr. Donald Johanson in founding the Institute of Human Origins (now at Arizona State University) and served as its founding chairman for more than a decade. He was a founding trustee and is treasurer of the Trust for African Rock Art (Nairobi) dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of humanity’s earliest art works in Africa. He presently resides in southeastern Kenya and is trustee of the Maasailand Preservation Trust, whose mission is to stabilize and sustain the world-renowned Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

In 2003, Mr. Hill and his colleague Richard Bonham created the Predator Compensation Fund, an innovative strategy that has proven extremely effective at saving all the great predators of East Africa; in particular, the highly-threatened lion.

For more information

Popular Publications

Hill, Thomas F. 2004. “Of Pride and Prejudice: A Quest to Save the African Lion from Extinction.” The Explorers Journal, Summer Issue.

Hill, Thomas F. 2005. “Living on Borrowed Time.” SWARA. Magazine of the East African Wildlife Society. 2005:04.

Hill, Thomas F. 2006. “Investing in a Sustainable Future.” Paper presented at The Wildlife Society annual conference. Anchorage, Alaska, September.

Media Coverage

CBS News. 2009. “Poison Takes Toll on Africa’s Lions.” 60 Minutes. March 29.

Arte Europa. 2009. “Le Crepuscule des lions (the twilight of the lions).” 29 December.,broadcastingNum=1101357,day=4,week=53,year=2009.html

Scott D. Cecil

Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, Conservation Agreement Fund

Scott Cecil is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Conservation Agreement Fund. Scott, through several ventures has been instrumental in funding the Upper Essequibo Conservation Concession (UECC) in Guyana since 2006 when he first read an article about conservation agreements authored by Dr. Richard Rice.

Because of his strong belief fostered throughout his life that we must all work to protect the environment, Cecil recently sought to further his involvement in conservation projects, and thus began work with Rice to form the Conservation Agreement Fund. After graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans with a degree in economics, Scott worked for many years as an executive in the wireless telecommunications industry. Today, the inspiration and motivation behind Scott’s philanthropic mission is his fervent belief that every generation should leave future generations better off than the one that came before. While this can certainly be applied in financial terms, he feels that financial betterment won’t really matter without a healthy environment.


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