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Appears in Collections:Economics eTheses
Title: The economic value of Albertine Rift Forests; applications in policy and programming
Author(s): Bush, Glenn K
Supervisor(s): Hanley, Nicholas D
Keywords: environmental economics
household income
cost benefit analysis
tropical forests
protected areas
Issue Date: Feb-2009
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The objective of this thesis is to quantitatively understand the economic performance of protected area management strategies for forest and biodiversity conservation. Examples such as integrated conservation and development and eco tourism are assessed in terms of their ability to deliver on welfare benefits to local communities, and an assessment of the opportunity costs of forest conservation as a land use strategy. In addition the contribution of forest conservation in protected areas can make to poverty alleviation and economic development is also examined. The geographical focus of this study is the Albertine Rift region of East and Central Africa, stretching north from the southern end of Lake Tanganyika through the spine of Africa to the northern end of Lake Albert. The Albertine Rift is one of Africa’s most important landscapes for the conservation of forests and biodiversity. The overarching objective is addressed using a series of case studies empirically valuing the opportunity costs of conserving forests in a selection of sites in the central part of the Albertine Rift. The success of conservation is most often measured against progress in reducing habitat or species loss and not often in terms of the contribution of the protected area to poverty alleviation and local economic development. Achieving improvements of conservation strategies in the social dimension requires objective evidence on their effects. Economic valuation of protected area resources provides a quantitative means of assessing the promise and performance of conservation policies in achieving welfare benefits to local communities. This thesis provides three case studies each addressing current valuation and social issues in conservation and sets them in a context of managing protected areas in the broad dynamic setting of poverty alleviation and economic growth from a developing economy perspective. In addition two of the empirical studies are as concerned with methodological enquiry and the performance of novel environmental economic valuation techniques, such as the contingent valuation and choice modelling approaches, as the application of results to conservation questions. The empirical studies show that the benefits to local households and communities from their local forests may be greater than at first perceived. Across all protected area categories, biomes and income groups, households derived significant amounts of their overall income from their local protected area with large proportions of the value of goods harvested from forests being consumed in the home. Amongst income groups high income households often appropriated a greater share of the value of forest goods. There was no significant difference found between the household consumption and the sale of protected area products between income groups. The findings indicate that imposing reductions in forest use may increase poverty amongst local people whilst increasing household income will not necessarily reduce forest exploitation. This indicates that community conservation and integrated conservation and development programmes must target the poor forest adjacent households more actively to ensure poverty alleviation, whilst providing improved protection and law enforcement for effective conservation. It is also shown that biodiversity conservation can have an economic return through mountain gorilla eco-tourism. Findings show a disparity between what constitutes eco-tourism and the real values of tourists towards biodiversity conservation and local social benefits from protected areas. Despite showing a high marginal utility for biodiversity conservation, consumers are unwilling to pay for local community benefits from tourism as part of the permit price to view gorillas. Clearly the link between successful conservation and the welfare status of local communities is not sufficiently established in the minds of consumers to influence their spending decisions. The challenges of effectively mobilising communities to protect biodiversity are discussed in the context of the variable impacts of integrated conservation and development programs over the last three decades. Direct payment payments for conservation services schemes are discussed as an innovative tool to add to the gamut of community approaches currently on offer. Payments for conservation schemes are viewed with cautious optimism in terms of their possibility for success. Despite their allure of being more economically and socially efficient at achieving welfare and conservation objectives, given the complex nature of any society, no less research in to social and economic dynamics of protected area use by local communities would be needed to ensure success of such schemes. However, the overwhelming majority of benefits form protected areas are tied up in ecosystem services values. Mechanisms to generate funding and distribute payments for these benefits in terms of offsetting the local opportunity costs are essential to change local behavior and reduce forest degradation and destruction.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: Stirling Management School

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