Financial valuation of wetland ecosystem services in Nepal
Thapa et al. 2020
This study estimated the financial value of ecosystem services from the Begnas Watershed System, which covers 49 sq km in the mid-hills of Nepal. The authors found that the wetland generated US$3.91 million annually, equating to US$651 per household, and US$800 per hectare. 85% of the total value was attributed to recreational services (tourism, primarily boating). Of the 9 ecosystem services assessed, the next most important service identified by survey respondents was erosion control, followed by willingness to pay for conservation, then biodiversity. The region is rich in biodiversity, and is home to threatened species such as Indian vultures and clouded leopards.
Residents living closer to the watershed had more opportunity to benefit from tourism through fishing, boating, trekking and hotels, whilst more distant communities benefited more in the form of irrigation. The study also found that the full potential for income generation from tourism was not realised; the willingness to pay of foreign tourists was almost three-times that of Nepalese visitors, and the authors suggest that an entry fee could be charged for visiting the lake.
The authors hope that these results will inform conservation policy in the region, such that ecosystem service protection is prioritised according to what is most important to people in different areas.
Read the paper here.