Conservation Costs and Benefits


* Local tourism, use and non-use benefits less farming opportunity costs
** National direct and secondary tourism benefits plus non-use value, without consideration of National Park administration costs.
*** International tourism consumer surplus and non-use value less tourism travel cost

Fig. 5: Distribution of annual forest benefits and costs between stakeholder levels

This is from Richard Hatfield,

THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF THE VIRUNGA AND BWINDI GORILLA MOUNTAIN FORESTS. For an example at the country level, see The opportunity costs of biodiversity conservation in Kenya by Mike Norton-Griffiths and Clive Southey,

The net revenues from wildlife tourism and forestry are unlikely to meet the opportunity costs of the land set aside in parks, reserves and forests for decades to come – if ever. In effect, therefore, the Kenya government is subsidising these conservation activities to the amount of $161m each year (1989 prices). To these subsidies should be added the benefits to the rest of the world from the continued existence of the flora and fauna and the undisturbed habitats of Kenya. To put all this into context, our calculated net loss from foregone agricultural output (2.2% of 1989 GDP) is equivalent to almost 30% of net investment in 1989 and to 70% of all external (aid) grants to Kenya in 1989/90.

When viewed candidly, the chief values of these conservation activities are all indirect and external. Very few Kenyans visit parks, reserves and forests: furthermore, many of the indirect values of conservation, such as wildlife experience, existence values, biodiversity values and carbon sequestration, are also external to Kenya.

Worldwide, Alexander James et al. estimate in Can We Afford to Conserve Biodiversity? that the compensation for opportunity costs in protected areas in developing regions should be 4.9 billion (1996 dollars). That is a lot of money, but not so much if you compare it to e.g. agricultural subsidies and support costs in rich countries (see previous post).

If most of this was paid as direct compensation, that would probably do more both to conserve biodiversity and to eliminate poverty that any number of complicated and indirect schemes. But the devil is in the details. At lot more work and experiments with compensation for opportunity costs have to be carried out. The sooner, the better.


One thought on “Conservation Costs and Benefits

  1. Pingback: GREENIRVANA » Blog Archive » Nature Conservation Costs and Benefits

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