The recent Walk on the Wild Side: Estimating the Global Magnitude of Visits to Protected Areas report from researchers in Cambridge, UK, Princeton, New Jersey, and Washington, DC, revealed that the world protected natural areas recieve 8 billion visits a year creating a positive economic impact of their adjacent areas!

According to the authors’ estimate, this number of visits likely generates as much as US$600 billion of tourism expenditure annually in the adjacent areas of the natural sites. This huge economic impact locally exceed the less than US$10 billion spent safeguarding these sites each year, creating a huge economic unbalance between expenses and incomes linked to protected areas.

Scientists and conservation experts describe current global expenditure on protected areas as “grossly insufficient”, and have called for greatly increased investment in the maintenance and expansion of protected areas.

“It’s fantastic that people visit protected areas so often, and are getting so much from experiencing wild nature – it’s clearly important to people and we should celebrate that,” said lead author Professor Andrew Balmford, from Cambridge University’s Department of Zoology.

“These pieces of the world provide us with untold benefits: from stabilising the global climate and regulating water flows to protecting untold numbers of species. Now we’ve shown that through tourism nature reserves contribute in a big way to the global economy- yet many are being degraded through encroachment and illegal harvesting, and some are being lost altogether. It’s time that governments invested properly in protected areas.”

For more information about the methodology of the calculation and citation, please visit the Plos open access website


About Author

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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