Economic valuation of non-material contributions to people provided by avian scavengers: Harmonizing conservation and wildlife-based tourism
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Conservation economicsCultural ecosystem servicesEcotourismVulture restaurantVultures
Ruth García-Jiménez... [et al.]. Economic valuation of non-material contributions to people provided by avian scavengers: Harmonizing conservation and wildlife-based tourism, Ecological Economics, Volume 187, 2021, 107088, ISSN 0921-8009, [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2021.107088]
SponsorshipSpanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness CGL201566966C22R; Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities RTI2018099609BC22; European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG VAEspanaFranciaAndorra (POCTEFA 2014-2020 program) ECOGYP EFA 089/15; Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness FPI/BES-2016-077510; European Social Fund (ESF) APOSTD/2019/016; Generalitat Valenciana European Commission
Nature's contributions to people (NCP) are fundamental to human well-being. In particular, non-material NCP, defined as effects on personal perspectives which enhance people's quality of life, are currently the most abstract and least well-defined NCP. Avian scavengers are a globally threatened guild that plays a key role in our society but currently only valued for their NCP of disease control and carcass removal. We describe the first economic valuation of the recreational and educational experiences brought by avian scavenger-based tourism in Spain, concretely, at vulture supplementary feeding sites (SFS) in the Pyrenees and their important contribution to the incomes of the local human population. Between February 2018 and January 2020, we collected information on the management and characteristics of 53 (c. 80%) of the Pyrenean SFS using telephone interviews and questionnaires. We estimated that photography and avian scavenger-watching at SFS produce an average of US $4.90 +/- 2.67 million annually, including US $2.53 +/- 1.36 million in direct economic benefits to the local population. Using a conservative economic approach, this study is one of only a few to value some of the important nonmaterial contribution provided by avian scavengers to our society. Our study also suggests that further research on non-material NCP provided by avian scavengers at SFS is needed. Finally, we discuss the delicate balance between recreational experiences arising from wildlife-based tourism and biodiversity conservation, contrasting the contribution of SFS to the income of local human populations against the problems they raise for vulture conservation.