Traps and transformations influencing the financial viability of tourism on private-land conservation areas

Clements, Hayley S., and Cumming, Graeme S. (2018) Traps and transformations influencing the financial viability of tourism on private-land conservation areas. Conservation Biology, 32 (2). pp. 424-436.

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The ability of private conservation organizations to remain financially viable is a key factor influencing their effectiveness. One-third of financially motivated private-land conservation areas (PLCAs) surveyed in South Africa are unprofitable, raising questions about landowners' abilities to effectively adapt their business models to the socioeconomic environment. In any complex system, options for later adaptation can be constrained by starting conditions (path dependence). We tested 3 hypothesized drivers of path dependence in PLCA ecotourism and hunting business models: (H1) the initial size of a PLCA limits the number of mammalian game and thereby predators that can be sustained; (H2) initial investments in infrastructure limit the ability to introduce predators; and (H3) rainfall limits game and predator abundance. We further assessed how managing for financial stability (optimized game stocking) or ecological sustainability (allowing game to fluctuate with environmental conditions) influenced the ability to overcome path dependence. A mechanistic PLCA model based on simple ecological and financial rules was run for different initial conditions and management strategies, simulating landowner options for adapting their business model annually. Despite attempts by simulated landowners to increase profits, adopted business models after 13 years were differentiated by initial land and infrastructural assets, supporting H1 and H2. A conservation organization's initial assets can cause it to become locked into a financially vulnerable business model. In our 50-year simulation, path dependence was overcome by fewer of the landowners who facilitated natural ecological variability than those who maintained constant hunting rates and predator numbers, but the latter experienced unsustainably high game densities in low rainfall years. Management for natural variability supported long-term ecological sustainability but not shorter term socioeconomic sustainability for PLCAs. Our findings highlight trade-offs between ecological and economic sustainability and suggest a role for governmental support of the private conservation industry.

Item ID: 53584
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1523-1739
Keywords: adaptive capacity, command and control, mechanistic model, natural resource management, path dependence, private protected area, social-ecological feedback, vulnerability
Funders: James S. McDonnell Foundation, GreenMatter Harry Crossley Fellowship, National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: NRF DAAD scholarship
Date Deposited: 09 May 2018 08:29
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 100%
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