Money for a green cause

There is more than just fun for the occasional visitor to a national park - the economics of its conservation

Published: Sunday 31 December 1995

NOTWITHSTANDING all loud discussions on preserving national parks and Nomr@es, the economics of the issue has resnained largely unsubstantiated. Vlie"ntly, two studies were conducted by a research team at the Indira Gandhi VwWtute of Development Research ("M). Bombay, on the contingent val of the Borivli National Park and by M Murty and S us, Institute of Economic Delhi, on the economic aspects fto todtitife protection in the Keoladeo 10how" park, Bharatpur.

The studies extensively document use of 'contingency valuation mehtods proving it to be a better means 'IOU awaku the recreational aspects of d natural reserves. It was found i4FW_Zto under-priced facilities (low fees, low accomodation the park incurs a large debt.

The IGIDR study cites the example of MW aw. also known as Sanjay Gandhi asawl Park, which attracts more than hon visitors annually. This parl incurred a staggering annual Of Rs 13 million in 1994. More a adbon encroachers reside on the !JoWs kw~ft and about 1,800 adivasis bw mot* the park- Firewood collection !!&W ampaw kiling reduces forest cover md dqpades wilMe habitats.

The survey also revealed that people in Bombay were aware of the BNP'S importance for whose upliftment they displayed a high degree of'willingness to pay' - Rs 8 monthly per household for the next five years on an average.

The goal ofthe Bharatpur study was, to evaluate the application of current techniques of wildlife economics, to provide data from a specific case study at the Keoladeo National Park, and to propose possible policy options to improve people-park relations.

Increased user charges or gate fees, wildlife protection tax on domestic nationals, and voluntary contributions through environmental NGOS were suggested as efficient measures.

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