Gains from configuration: The transboundary protected area as a conservation tool
Nearly two hundred transboundary protected areas comprise a portion of the global conservation landscape the size of India, with further expansion anticipated. Proponents claim that transboundary protected areas outperform isolated protected areas in achieving conservation objectives, while regional case studies have led critics to challenge this claim. Empirical investigation into the relative performance of transboundary protected areas is fundamentally limited since these areas cannot be directly compared to the isolated protected areas that might otherwise have emerged in the same location. This paper develops a game theory model of park formation to compare counterfactual transboundary and isolated protected areas. The model suggests that under certain conditions, transboundary protected areas can achieve greater conservation and production objectives, even in the absence of international cooperative park management. The paper establishes five sufficient conditions for transboundary protected areas to provide greater national welfare, domestic conservation value, or global conservation value than counterfactual isolated protected areas. These conditions are tested for three common conservation objectives. The results suggest that when the objective of conservation is species persistence or interior habitat, conservation groups should encourage transboundary protected areas. However, when the objective of conservation is to extend reserve coverage to the maximum number of species, conservation groups should encourage protected areas where species richness is greatest, whether or not these areas span international borders.
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