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2015-10-12 | project

Protected Areas and their economic and social effects in Costa Rica

The goal of this project is to determine how parks and other conservation policies might affect local welfare. We are interested in wages, employment of agricultural and non-agricultural activities, infrastructure and poverty rates.

There might be negative effects. Many studies have discussed this relationship. Some of them argue that parks could actually have a negative impact on local welfare. Opposition from local communities to forest conservation efforts is evidence that these policies have negative effects on economic outcomes. In Brazil, local governments protest restrictions imposed on their land by the federal government for conservation purposes. In India, the wildlife protection act has enforced the relocation of a large number of people out of protected areas, creating discontent among those directly affected. The implementation of parks has also encouraged social differentiation and the awareness of inequality in Honduras. In Madagascar, relative to household incomes in the region, the total opportunity costs of local communities from the establishment of two national parks are substantial. The restriction of land use can lead to a redistribution effect between landowners and landless agricultural workers. Land becomes relatively more scarce than labour. This might push agricultural workers to migrate to cities and to a decrease in their real wages.


There might be positive effects. However, parks could also have positive effects. In Thailand, the presence of some type of parks is correlated with higher consumption and lower poverty rates. One hypothesis is that benefits from nature-based tourism could raise economic welfare. In Canada, economic investments in tourism industry, subsidies, local participation and job creation were the main positive effects on communities living around two new established national parks; moreover, the types of positions were not as good as expected, and also traditional practices and local resource management were negatively affected in some cases. In United States, studies have found no effects on wages and employment produced by the adoption of preservationist management on public conservation lands.