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.

Chief Program Officer, Nia Tero

Dr. Chris Filardi is a research scientist by training with 30 years’ experience in building grassroots partnerships with indigenous peoples to sustain thriving natural systems within their territories. Chris has helped establish community-based wildlife reserves in Papua New Guinea and has facilitated strategies for customary protected areas in the Solomon Islands. He has also contributed to indigenous-led large-scale conservation initiatives in North America. Chris established the Pacific Programs at the American Museum of Natural History and directed that effort for more than 10 years. He has worked with a variety of large and small NGOs and has helped to start and strengthen grassroots and regional organizations focused on large-scale land and sea stewardship, and combining diverse ways of knowing and governance into upholding thriving ecosystems within collective territory. Chris is a co-founder and currently Chief Program Officer of Nia Tero, a newly established organization whose mission is to secure indigenous guardianship of vital ecosystems globally.

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 Consultant, EcoAdvisors

Dr. Eduard Niesten serves as Senior Consultant with boutique conservation services firm EcoAdvisors. Throughout his  career he has focused on designing effective conservation approaches with a particular interest in direct incentives and sustainable finance. Before joining EcoAdvisors, he spent 14 years at Conservation International designing, implementing and evaluating incentive-based interventions that advanced conservation and human wellbeing. As head of Conservation International’s Conservation Stewards Program he led implementation of conservation agreements in a broad portfolio of projects across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This portfolio included 51 conservation agreements that improve standards of living for resource-dependent communities, 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. Strategies to ensure long-term viability of these initiatives include dedicated trust funds, targeted government programs for conservation and poverty alleviation, and sustainable nature-based enterprise. Prior to Conservation International, 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 community conservation incentive agreements throughout the tropics. Dr. Niesten holds a PhD in Applied Economics, an MA in International Development Policy, and BAs in Quantitative Economics and International Relations from Stanford University.

Key Publications

Mora, M., E. Palacios, E., and E. Niesten. 2017. “Assessing the impact of conservation agreements on threatened fish species: A case study in the Colombian Amazon.” Oryx 1-10.

Gjertsen, H., T. Groves, D. Miller, E. Niesten, D. Squires and J. Watson. 2014. “A Contract-Theoretic Model of Conservation Agreements.” in K. Hadri and W. Mikhail (eds.). Econometric Methods and Their Applications in Finance, Macro and Related Fields. World Scientific Publishing: Singapore.

Niesten, E., H. Gjertsen and P. Fong. 2013. “Incentives for Marine Conservation: Options for Small Island Developing States.” Environment and Development Economics v18: 440-458.

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

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

Aaron Bruner

Senior Economist, Conservation Strategy Fund

Aaron is Senior Economist at Conservation Strategy Fund. He has worked for 20 years leading conservation projects and research in developing countries, with a focus on the benefits and costs of protected areas, ecosystem service valuation, development planning, and conservation performance agreements. He holds a Master in Public Policy degree with a concentration in economics from Princeton University and a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University.

Key Publications

Bruner, A. C Solís, C. Mendizabal, and T. Vilela. 2018. Using Incentives to Control Deforestation in the Andes Amazon. Latin American Journal of Economic Development 30: 27-49.

Maldonado, JH, R del Pilar Moreno-Sánchez, S Espinoza, A Bruner, N Garzón, and J Meyers. 2018. Peace is much more than doves: The economic benefits of bird-based tourism as a result of the peace treaty in Colombia. World Development 106: 78-86.

Seehusen, SE., D Kieling, A Bruner, and T Vilela. 2017. Can market instruments contribute to achieve environmental objectives at lower costs? Implementing scenarios for the Environmental Reserve Quota (CRA) in the state of Bahia. CSF Technical Series No. 49. CSF, Washington DC.

Bruner, A. and J. Reid. 2016. Behavioral economics and payments for ecosystem services: finally some free lunches. CSF Discussion Paper No. 13. CSF, Sebastopol, CA.

Bruner, A. B. Kessey, J Mnaya, JJ Wakibara, and JH Maldonado. 2015. Tourists Willingness to Pay to Visit Tanzania’s National Parks: A Contingent Valuation Study. CSF Discussion Paper. CSF, Sebastopol, CA.

Reid, J., A Bruner, and A Malky. 2015. Using Economic Forces to Conserve Nature. Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring): 48-53.

Reid J., A Bruner, J Chow, A Malky, JC Rubio, and C Vallejos. 2015. Ecological compensation to address environmental externalities: lessons from South American case studies. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 34(5-6): 605-622.

Bruner, A., C. Magnan, R. Rice, and J. Reid. 2014 Economic comparison of alternatives to building on Goat Islands: Does Jamaica need to sacrifice a world class conservation site in order to build world class port? CSF Technical Series No. 31. CSF, Sebastopol, CA.

Kaggwa, R., M. Masiga, and A. Bruner. 2014. Guidelines for Conducting Economic Analysis of Environmental Impacts in Uganda. Report produces for the Government of Uganda. NEMA, Kampala; and CSF, Sebastopol, CA.

Bruner, A., Niesten, E. and Rice, R. (2010) ‘Misaligned incentives and trade-offs in allocation of conservation funding’, in N. Leader-Williams, W.M. Adams, and R.J. Smith (Eds.) Trade-offs in Conservation: deciding what to save, Wiley-Blackwells, Oxford.

Bruner, A., Pabon-Zamora, L, and Conner, N. (2009) ‘Weighing the benefits and costs of protected areas’, in TEEB, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, TEEB for Policy Makers (D1).

Busch, J. et al. (2009) ‘Comparing climate and cost impacts of reference levels for reducing emissions from deforestation’, Environ. Res. Lett. 4: 1-11.

Bruner, A., Gullison, R, and Balmford. A. (2004) ‘Financial costs and shortfalls of managing and expanding protected-area systems in developing countries’, BioScience 54: 1119-1126.

Bruner, A.G., Gullison, R.E., Rice, R.E., and da Fonseca, G.A.B. (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

Big Life Predator Conservation Fund

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.

Faune en danger. Le crépuscule des lions

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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