The purposes, promises and compromises of extinction accounting in the UK public sector

Kenneth Weir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
83 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the state of extinction accounting, and the motivations for its use in the UK public sector. Prior studies are mostly concerned with corporate attempts to account for species, despite studies in related areas calling for examinations of the public sector context.

The paper analyses the use of extinction accounting in three separate case organisations, conducting a total of 21 interviews across the three cases. Interviews were conducted with a range of organisational participants each having experience with extinction accounting.

Interviews reveal a number of common uses and applications of extinction accounting across the three councils. Practices are used to generate reports on species loss and recovery within each region, and to facilitate planning for species protection and recovery. However, in attempting to use this information, key trade-offs emerge between satisfying economic and ecological criteria, and even trade-offs are created regarding development of protection schemes. This leads to a subversion of extinction accounting.

Research limitations/implications
Commensurate with prior studies in the corporate context, the study finds the presence of an economic logic impinging upon ecological decision making, suggesting that practices of extinction accounting may be affected by the same acknowledged economic motivations that reside in corporate attempts to account for nature.

The paper makes an important contribution by evaluating the public sector context of extinction accounting, which is lacking in existing research. The findings relating to the public sector use of species and extinction information also provide a useful context to understand how relatively new social and environmental accounting practices are deployed in organisations, as well as some indication of their effectiveness and limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-899
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'The purposes, promises and compromises of extinction accounting in the UK public sector'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this