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Assessing the Distribution of Benefits of Protected Areas to Northern Boundary Communities: A Case Study of Wood-Tikchik State Park Alaska



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Currently 15.4 percent of the earth’s surface is designated as protected area. While these areas are primarily established for biodiversity conservation, these protected areas have the potential to provide many benefits, other than biodiversity conservation. Valuations of PPAs are often required as justification for continued protection or expansion of these areas. Previous valuation attempts and analysis of protected area benefits have been criticized for narrowness of scope, and lack of attention to the distribution of benefits across geographic populations. The purpose of this study was to quantify and/or qualify the benefits, including both subjective and objective benefits, of Wood-Tikchik State Park (WTSP), Alaska, and analyze the distribution of benefits across identified stakeholder groups. WTSP is located in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska, and is the largest state park in the United States. To analyze the benefits, and the distribution of benefits, to stakeholders of WTSP a combination of secondary data, survey results of visitors to WTSP, and key informant interviews were used. Secondary data were collected from various Alaska State government departments on the value of commercial and subsistence salmon harvest originating from WTSP, and recreational visitors to WTSP. A pilot survey of visitors to a WTSP recreational fishing lodge was conducted to learn about trip characteristics and visitor expenditures in the region. Finally, semi-structured interviews were conducted in person and over the phone, with representatives of WTSP stakeholder groups. The available secondary data allowed for the calculation of monetary values of WTSP, all directly or indirectly related to the presence of salmon in the region. These values were distributed across stakeholder groups. While non-monetary benefits were identified by all stakeholders, residents of local communities which access the park (boundary communities) identified the most benefits of importance. Wood-Tikchik State Park provides many benefits to different stakeholders, including boundary community residents. Being able to account for these benefits will be important for conservation of these areas, especially as demand for alternative land uses in the north grows.



Protected Areas, Benefit Assessment



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Agricultural and Resource Economics


Agricultural Economics


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