Costs of large predator conservation may not be equitably distributed among stakeholders; these include farming communities, tourism business owners and visitors. Financial redistribution mechanisms based on accrued benefits and costs of conservation require relevant data unavailable in many locations. To address this, a contingent valuation method identified willingness to pay (WTP) among national park visitors and connected tourism business owners. Both groups derive benefit from government-funded conservation policies. The study was conducted in Bardia and Chitwan National Parks, Nepal 2017–2018; two locations world-renowned for tiger conservation. Local and international park visitors (N = 387) provided WTP for ongoing conservation via additional park entry fees. Tourism business owners (TBOs; N = 74) proximate to the parks stated their WTP for compensation funding provided directly to farmers. The majority (65%) of park visitors were willing to pay extra to support conservation (sample mean US$ 20) while 85 percent of TBOs supported their payment of funds for compensating farming communities (sample mean annual contribution being US$ 156). Valid WTP regression modelling found that visitor WTP was predicted by international travel costs and environmental organization affiliation. For TBOs indicating WTP, the amount to pay was predicted by annual net income from the tourism business. Application of study data indicates US$ 25 average increase to visitor park fees would maximise revenue and contribute a further US$ 495,000 available for conservation activities. Similarly, a flat-rate tariff on TBOs at the mean WTP amount would contribute more than double the annual budget available for farmer compensation (providing approximately US$ 43,000). More generally, the study findings are informative for policy-makers seeking equitable conservation outcomes while maintaining viable populations of critically endangered wild tigers. They should however be interpreted with caution given limitations of the sampling frame and method of data elicitation. Regardless, any policy decision effects require careful scrutiny to ensure desired outcomes are realized.
Babu Ram Bhattarai, Damian Morgan, Wendy Wright. Equitable sharing of benefits from tiger conservation: Beneficiaries’
willingness to pay to offset the costs of tiger conservation. Journal of Environmental Management, 2021 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112018