Economic valuation of protected areas : the case of the Lope National Park in Gabon
Thesis (MDF)--Stellenbosch University, 2010.
The purpose of this study was to estimate the economic value of the Lopé National Park in Gabon. The creation of the Lopé National Park (LNP) in 2002 aimed at answering international engagements of Gabon as regards conservation of the biodiversity. To be able to value this protected area, an economic valuation technique called the Total Economic Value was applied. Total economic value (TEV) is a valuation method which attempts to estimate monetarily some tangible and intangible environmental benefits. After a brief presentation and an overview of legal aspects of the LNP, two management scenarios were considered: a scenario „with the Lopé National Park‟ and a scenario „without the Lopé National Park‟. The former scenario takes in account the establishment of the park whereas the latter suggests the non-establishment of the park. A set of hypotheses was set to perform the valuation. Furthermore, the data used in this study was based on primary research and various telephone interviews to confirm their validity. Based on various valuation techniques, selected tangible and intangible ecosystem benefits classified as direct use values, indirect use values, option values and existence values were quantified. The result of this study shows that the economic value of the scenario with the Lopé National Park produces a higher economic value than the scenario without the Lopé National Park. In other words, the decision to establish a protected area is a justifiably sound economic decision as it creates social welfare at local, national and international level. It is important to note that this valuation exercise is incomplete as this study does not take into account all the environmental benefits generated by any forest ecosystem due to the difficulty in valuing its intangible nature.