Nelson, Katie, Partelow, Stefan ORCID: and Schlüter, Achim ORCID: (2018) Extending the scope of voluntary marine park user fees to terrestrial conservation across coupled land-sea ecosystem boundaries. . Working Paper Series, 5 . Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Bremen, 20 pp. DOI

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This research examines the potential for multi-use marine park areas to be financed by voluntary fees that fund coastal conservation issues. Many stressors faced by marine and coastal ecosystems are generated on land, such as pollution and sedimentation. Threats across coupled land-sea boundaries are pervasive in most coastal ecosystems, making their consideration essential for successful management. Marine parks are one principal strategy for protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, especially where coral reefs are present, but the primary mission of conservation and protection is often hampered by insufficient funds. Healthy coral reefs attract tourists from around the world that generate substantial economic revenue and failing to account for management across land-sea boundaries threatens reef protection, and, ultimately, human livelihoods dependent on reefs. The majority of studies examining user fees for financing marine conservation focus only on divers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for marine conditions. However, relatively little is known about the willingness to pay for cross-boundary conservation activities from all recreational users of a marine park area (e.g. beachgoers, surfers, boaters, snorkelers) who benefit from and contribute to the quality of the ecosystem. We employ experimental methods to explore the optimal asking mechanisms that influence real voluntary payments for conservation from all types of users through four treatment conditions: control (write-in amount), default opt-in, default opt-out, and reference levels. To the authors’ knowledge this is the first record of such combination of treatments being used in soliciting contributions for environmental conservation. The field experiment conducted with tourists on the island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia revealed a significantly higher propensity to donate in all conditions compared to the control. The default opt-out condition represents the highest donation propensity at 68%. The average WTP, determined by the control (write-in) treatment and supported by the results of the reference level treatment, was 20,667IDR ($1.55USD) and 19,750IDR ($1.48USD) respectively. The results suggest that the optimal method of requesting a voluntary eco-fee is to set a default fee at the average WTP and require users to opt-out of the eco-fee if they do not wish to donate. Implementing an eco-fee in such a way represents a significant source of funding for both terrestrial and marine conservation, and illustrates the potential for user fees to be applied across ecosystem boundaries. We argue that expanding eco-fees to all visitors within a marine park area is a vital funding mechanism and an important avenue for future investigation in many connected systems.

Document Type: Report (Working Paper)
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Social Sciences > Institutional and Behavioural Economics
DOI etc.:
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2023 10:54
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2023 10:54

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