Economic approaches to balancing use and preservation in parks and protected areas
This thesis uses economic analysis to suggest how to optimally balance human use and ecological preservation in Canada's National Parks. Defining optimal use levels as those that maximize the net value of combined use and non-use benefits, the thesis evaluates various instruments for achieving these levels and assesses current human use management strategies in the National Parks. For comparison purposes, the potential of various forms of park privatization to achieve optimal outcomes is also considered. Finally, the analysis framework is used to interpret the use vs. preservation in Banff National Park and to identify the requirements for empirically determining optimal use levels for a park sub-region. Important conclusions of the thesis are that restricting access to the parks will generally be necessary to maximize societal benefits, and that current park planning frameworks will overestimate optimal use levels due to their failure to consider congestion and ecological costs simultaneously.