The contribution of conservation lands to the West Coast regional economy
Economic analysis is concerned with the efficient use of resources. Different branches of economics use different tools to achieve this purpose. As stated in the Dictionary of Economics (pass et al., 1988), the "ultimate purpose of economic endeavour is to satisfy human wants for goods and services", the problem being that scarcity means that we must continually make choices between desired outputs. Public sector goods are goods and services provided by the State for the benefit of the public at large. There are a number of different reasons, generally associated with market failure, why it is considered desirable for the State to undertake this role. Economic research has an important role to play in the management of the Department of Conservation (DoC) estate and conservation lands. Economic tools can be used to evaluate resources and their use to ensure consistency with the goal of the protection and preservation of conservation lands. There is a tendency for some sectors of the population to regard land and resources not being directly used for tangible productive purposes such as agriculture, forestry or mining as 'unproductive' or 'under-utilised' land. This is short sighted as it does not recognise the non-commercial values (Kerr, Sharp and Gough, 1986). Non-market valuation techniques can be used to assess or estimate the use and non-use values of these resources. An example of a non-use value is the value that a person living in Auckland may be prepared to pay for knowing that black stilt survive, yet accepting; that they may never see one. Other values are associated with the possible future use of an area. The DoC has a high profile on the West Coast due to the high proportion of the total land area that it administers. The DoC's primary responsibility is the protection and preservation of conservation values. This requires DoC to take into account intangible values such as inter-generational equity or the need to take account of the interests of future generations. In its role as manager of State resources and Crown lands DoC makes a significant economic contribution to the economy of the region. The aim of this research was to identify areas where DoC contributes to the economic welfare of the region. These areas include the direct contribution made to the region through the input of nationally collected revenue for management of the regional resources, the indirect benefits of tourism resulting from the presence of conservation lands, and the management of some extractive uses of conservation lands. The latter is at the discretion of the Regional Conservator and is allowable only when such use does not conflict with conservation management. This project addresses the role of DoC in the West Coast regional economy. Tourism makes a major contribution to the West Coast economy and is closely linked to the presence of conservation lands.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordseconomic conditions; economic aspects; natural resource management; conservation; economic analysis; conservation land management; economic research; tourism economics; visitor statistics
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