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Using benefits and costs estimations to manage conservation: Chile’s protected areas


  • Enrique Calfucura
  • Eugenio Figueroa


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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  • Enrique Calfucura & Eugenio Figueroa, 2016. "Using benefits and costs estimations to manage conservation: Chile’s protected areas," Working Papers wp418, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:udc:wpaper:wp418

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    1. Berentsen, Paul B.M. & Hendriksen, Astrid & Heijman, Wim J.M. & van Vlokhoven, Haske A., 2007. "Costs and benefits of on-farm nature conservation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3-4), pages 571-579, May.
    2. Coria, Jessica & Calfucura, Enrique, 2012. "Ecotourism and the development of indigenous communities: The good, the bad, and the ugly," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 47-55.
    3. James Boyd & Rebecca Epanchin-Niell & Juha Siikamäki, 2015. "Conservation Planning: A Review of Return on Investment Analysis," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 9(1), pages 23-42.
    4. Epanchin-Niell, Rebecca S. & Wilen, James E., 2012. "Optimal spatial control of biological invasions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 260-270.
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