Using benefits and costs estimations to manage conservation: Chile’s protected areas
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Despite the relevance of protected areas as biodiversity conservation tools, indicators of cost-benefit analysis of both public and private protected areas has been scarce in the literature. In this paper, we estimate and evaluate the ecosystem benefits and the management and opportunity costs of the protected areas of Chile´s National System of Protected Areas (SNASPE). We found that annual social benefits provided by SNASPE, of almost USD 2 billion, outweigh by far its annual management and opportunity costs, of USD 177 million. However, a large heterogeneity of costs and benefits is observed across the different categories of protected areas as well as among the protected areas within each category located in different geographical zones. Most of the benefits are concentrated in the South and Austral zones of Chile, zones that also exhibit the largest extension of land in SNASPE. Moreover, benefit-cost ratios vary extensively across protected areas; but, on average, the benefit-cost ratio is 11.3:1 for the entire SNASPE, which provides large opportunities to increase public investment in protected areas in Chile. Our results also shed lights on how detailed studies of benefits and costs indicators of SNASPE can improve conservation planning and conservation efficiency.
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