Valuing the Otago Peninsula: The Economic Benefits of Conservation

It is suggested that valuing objects is a distinctive human trait. It is a prerequisite for rational behaviour. Factors that are likely to influence valuations, the difficulties of getting agreements about valuations and the limited perspective of economics as a basis for valuation are discussed generally. Attributes of Otago Peninsula that seem to be valuable and worth conserving are listed and discuss taking into account possible conflicts in getting maximum value from these attributes. Particular attention is given to the economic value of conserving wildlife species on the Otago Peninsula. It is estimated that as a result of the presence of these species and their use for tourism, expenditure of over $100 million annually is generated in the Dunedin regional economy (directly or indirectly) and that 800-1000 full-time equivalent jobs are created. The economic opportunity cost of this wildlife conservation on the Peninsula is low and it is clear that the economic benefits from this conservation are well in excess of the costs involved. When non-use economic values and the social values associated with Otago Peninsula are taken into account, this further adds to the value of conserving this wildlife. While there has been remarkable expansion in wildlife tourism on the Otago Peninsula and its economic impact in the Dunedin region in the last two decades, (especially in the viewing of yellow-eyed penguins) difficulties and constraints are emerging that are likely to hamper its future expansion. However, wildlife tourism on the Otago Peninsula will still have a huge economic impact on Dunedin regional economy. Consequently, even if assessed solely in terms of their economic value, the wildlife attractions of the Otago Peninsula are well worth conserving. It can be argued however, that the value of conserving biodiversity on the Peninsula exceeds its touristic and its economic value. Some conservation organizations (such as the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust) even though not directly involved in tourism add to its economic value as well as its social value and promote the highly desired goal of conserving biodiversity.

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Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
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ISSN: 1327-8231 (Other)
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Series Statement:
Economics, Ecology and the Environment Working Paper

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-22

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