BENGALURU: In a first-of-its-kind valuation of a protected area, a new study has revealed that the Nagarhole National Park is providing millions of dollars worth of ecosystem services to the country.
In fact, researchers say this is a pointer for policy makers and planners to stress on conservation of forests rather than diverting them for mining, industrial and agricultural purposes.
As per the study, the net annual value of the ecosystem services provided by Nagarhole National Park is $13-148 million annually, which is roughly `86-987 crore.
However, using alternative assumptions and valuation methods, it is valued at $203-2,294 per hectare.
The study ‘Valuing Forest Ecosystem Services - Case Study of the Nagarhole National Park’ was done by Prof K N Ninan, chairperson of the Centre for Economics, Environment and Society and Prof Andreas Kontoleon of University of Cambridge.
The study involving data collection, visits to the National Park and estimation by environment-economic methods was completed after one-and-a-half years’ research and published in international journals this year.
Prof K N Ninan told Express this was the first-of-its-kind valuation of a park and till date, study on non-tangible benefits that accrues from a Park have not been done.
He added, “I had previously done studies on benefit transfers at Nagarhole. This time, lot of data was collected from the Park authorities followed by estimates and secondary data. We concentrated on non tangible benefits like soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, air pollution absorption, biodiversity, pollination and recreation benefits. These are those that cannot be traded in the market unlike timber and other forest products.”
Further, the valuation would have been still higher if some benefits like cultural values, flood protection benefits, water purification for which data was not available were taken into account.
The study also notes that the value of extra benefits is higher than from alternate landscape (agricultural lands or plantations) when it comes to soil and water conservation and carbon sequestration (trees trapping carbon and preventing global warming) benefits.
Prof Ninan said, “Our next valuation will be done for Bandipur National Park and Dandeli and Anshi Tiger Reserve (DATR) as we have already done a few studies here.”
“In the long run, if these values are taken into account in decision making by policy makers and planners, it will strengthen the economic justification and the need for conservation of forests,” he told Express.