Social and Economic Benefits of Protected Areas

The global network of protected areas both safeguards biodiversity and creates significant benefits for human welfare. Published on 15 August 2013, ‘Social and Economic Benefits of Protected Areas – An Assessment Guide’, offers a comprehensive introduction to the socio-economic benefits of protected areas (PAs) and provides step-by-step practical guidance on identifying, assessing and valuing the various ecosystem services and related benefits they provide. It aims to improve the communication of these benefits to different stakeholders and the general public. The book was led by two IEEP senior researchers, Patrick ten Brink and Marianne Kettunen, and can be ordered now.

While the awareness on the value of nature is increasing, there is still a widespread under-appreciation of the variety of social and economic benefits it provides us, especially at the practical level. Nature conservation, including investing in establishing and managing protected areas, is often considered as a hindrance rather than benefit to increasing our welfare. Demonstrating socio-economic importance of a protected site can significantly increase political and stakeholder support for the site and resolve conflicts between different interest groups. This can lead to positive changes in policies and decision-making. Insights on PA benefits are also needed to identify a combination of actions and land use practices that best support the sustainable and equitable utilisation of these benefits, while retaining a site’s conservation goals. Demonstrating different benefits can help to discover alternative and sustainable sources for financing the management of PAs.

"This book is [therefore] extremely welcome, coming at the moment when interest in assessment is higher than at any time before. […] We urge everyone involved in protected areas conservation to benefit from its guidance and help to promote protected areas as natural solutions to many of the world’s sustainability challenges." – From the Foreword by Braulio F. de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Ernesto Enkerlin-Hoeflich, Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

"This book presents a timely and practical guide to assessing and communicating the multiple values of protected areas, whether inland or coastal wetlands, drylands, grasslands, forests or marine areas in the open oceans. Essential reading for all wishing to ensure that nature is more fully taken into account in decision making, including all those responsible for managing and maintaining the health of the over 2000 Ramsar Sites worldwide." – Professor Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General, Ramsar Convention Secretariat

"This guidebook is incredibly comprehensive and useful for all practitioners attempting to present socio-economic values of PAs. It will undoubtedly lead to a whole host of new and strong PA valuation studies important for advancing the conservation agenda." – Andrew Bovarnick, Lead Natural Resource Economist, UNDP