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2011-05-03 | story

Park Pricing Workshop in Zimbabwe completed

Optimal park pricing can help achieve sustainable park management in eastern and southern Africa. The EfD center in South Africa, EPRU, co-hosted the second park pricing workshop in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, from 28 to 29 April 2011, together with Department of Economics at the University of Zimbabwe. It focused on an increasingly important sector with major values at stake due to irreversibilities of some types of biodiversity loss.

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“The ultimate outcome of this workshop series is an optimal pricing regime which satisfies the objectives desired by parks agencies in the participating countries,” says the workshop convener, Edwin Muchapondwa (left).

The background to this series of workshops is that national parks in eastern and southern Africa are under threat from insufficient funds to manage them, and the pressure to exploit them in alternative land-uses which easily demonstrate their worth. Furthermore, parks services increasingly being asked to rely on own revenues. The major goal of the workshop series is to use optimal park pricing to achieve sustainable park management and to maximize the value of parks for a combination of parks and national interests.

The second workshop, in Zimbabwe, was co-hosted by the Department of Economics at the University of Zimbabwe where the workshop convener, Edwin Muchapondwa of the University of Cape Town in South Africa and current EfD Research Officer, is spending part of his sabbatical leave this year.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, EfD Director Gunnar Köhlin observed that the workshop focused on an increasingly important sector with major values at stake due to irreversibilities of some types of biodiversity loss. He applauded the great interest by multiple EfD centers and stakeholder interest and involvement. The EfD Director believes that past research experiences and capacity within the EfD will help the workshop series to produce the policy relevant research needed by the parks agencies in eastern and southern Africa.

EfD Research Fellows from Kenya and South Africa attended the workshop along with a number of academics from Copperbelt University, University of Gothenburg, Makerere University, University of Cape Town, University of Namibia, University of Pretoria, University of Washington and University of Zimbabwe.

Park agency representatives from several countries attended

Of importance to note is that the workshop was also attended by representatives of the parks agencies in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Among the academics in attendance were Kgomotso Molosiwa, an Associate Researcher at the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), and Festus Kandenge, a lecturer at the University of Namibia, who closely work with parks agencies in Botswana and Namibia respectively. This shows a growing interest of research in this area by parks agencies since the last workshop which was only attended by representatives from parks agencies in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

This workshop is a follow up to the first workshop hosted in Nakuru National Park by the EfD center in Kenya based at KIPPRA about six months ago. The first workshop provided a platform for economists to learn what the real needs, constraints and opportunities are in park pricing; define how environmental economists can support optimal park pricing; agree on next steps in terms of data collection and interaction; and take a first small step towards a regional park tariff reform for sustainable park management.

The second workshop provided a forum to talk about what is known about the data which exists and has been collected; reconfirm the views from the parks agencies represented on the need for a regional park tariff reform for sustainable park management; discuss proposals for park pricing research projects to be conducted by country teams; and share the preliminary results from ongoing park pricing research.

Joep Stevens, the General Manager for Tourism Operations at the South African National Parks (SANParks), hailed the workshop as an important opportunity for parks agencies in the eastern and southern African region to exchange lessons about national park tariff reforms in their respective countries and together learn about the much needed scientific approaches to park pricing. Liberty Nyaguse, the Business Development Manager at ZimParks, applauded the progress observed in the research program since the last workshop.

The next workshop is scheduled to be held in Kruger National Park towards the end of the year.