Wilderness is biodiversity and… Wilderness is also cash! A new study in the US shows that National Parks generate billions for neighboring community, so they are vital for communities living around the protected areas. A lot to learn for Europe to set-up a green economy!
The US National Park Service has recently published the ‘2012 National Park Visitor Spending Effects report‘. The study shows that the whole National Park System (NPS), which is largely Wilderness, received over 282 million recreational visits. NPS visitors spent $14.7 billion in local gateway regions (defined as communities within 60 miles of a park). The contribution of this spending to the national economy were 243 thousand jobs, $9.3 billion in labor income, $15.8 billion in value added, and $26.8 billion in output. This means that National Parks return $10 in value for every $1 American taxpayers invest in them.
Please also read: The Trouble With National Parks In Europe
Despite their importance, National Parks are still chronically underfunded. The budget to operate parks has been cut by more than 7 %, $180 million in today’s dollars, compared to four years ago. The National Park Service has been forced to cut staff, close parks and carry a multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog. Wilderness is biodiversity, but done right, Wilderness is also a source of income.
There is a lot to learn for us in Europe if we really want to commit ourselves to a green economy! 3 points to take in Europe:
- Say NO to budget cuts to protected areas!
- Say YES to protect more Wilderness in order to support local rural economies!
- Invest in researching the non-direct use values of protected areas!