Friday, March 13, 2015

Value of Parks

The world's terrestrial national parks and nature reserves, about 94,238 sites, receive around eight billion visits every year, according to the first study into the global scale of nature-based tourism in protected areas (Cambridge). The authors of the study conservatively estimate that $600 billion in direct tourism expenditure is generated annually around the world from these protected areas; which far surpasses the only $10 billion spent globally to protect, maintain, and manage these areas. There is also a $250 billion “consumer surplus” that people would be willing to spend if they had to for these visits. While $600 billion dollars might seem like a lot of money, “…it’s a fraction of the economic benefit we get from protected areas”. These protected areas generate so much revenue, but “they comprise 12.7% of the Earth’s land surface” (Mooney). Both of the articles state the main conclusion of  the study, that “substantially increased investments in protected area maintenance and expansion would yield substantial return” (Cambridge).

Personally, I think that this study will prove to be extremely beneficial. Once the government sees that protected areas can generate so much money from direct tourism, they will definitely start funding them more; which is great. I am sure the government will also try to take even more advantage of the willingness to pay in certain areas by charging for select area entry. Although protecting large-scale environmentally fragile areas would be the ideal, the protection of smaller areas is also important. Metropolitan parks are also important because they help lessen the carbon footprint of the city surrounding them, generate clean air, and provide homes for wildlife, among other benefits. The study mentioned that wealthy North Americans and Europeans account for about four-fifths of protected area visits, and that the highest recorded visit rate was in San Francisco, CA and the lowest was in Africa. I would conclude that if Africa had more stable governments that tourism might be more frequent.
--Kallie Fullem

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