Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Earth and Ocean Sciences

Sub-Department

Earth and Environmental Resources Management

First Advisor

John A. Kupfer

Abstract

Protected areas are important tools for the conservation of biological diversity. They also support a wide range of ecosystem services and provide economic, cultural and social values and benefits. Many values and benefits of protected areas are poorly understood and greatly under-valued by decision-makers, the business sector, and the general public. Accordingly, identification and assessment of values and benefits of protected areas has been increasingly promoted during recent years.

This research investigates values and benefits of Congaree National Park and provides guidance for the further economic valuation of identified values and benefits. While the ecological significance of Congaree National Park has been well documented, it is also important to identify and study a broader range of social, cultural and economic values and benefits provided by the park in addition to those associated with biodiversity conservation. The research is conceptually based on The Protected Areas Benefit Assessment Tool, a methodology developed by World Wide Fund for Nature for the identification of values and benefits that protected areas bring to a range of stakeholders, from local to global. Key values and benefits of Congaree National Park were identified based on the input of experts who contributed to the research and through an extensive review of corresponding literature and research-based documentary materials.

The research identified the following key values and benefits of Congaree National Park: biodiversity conservation value; recreational value; science, knowledge and educational value; cultural, spiritual and historical value; climate regulation; water quality protection; flood storage and control; erosion control / soil stabilization; coastal protection; and management value. From these identified values and benefits, seven are recommended for further economic valuation. This research provides the guidance for economic valuation through defining categories / types of identified values and proposing possible applicable valuation methods with consideration of their advantages and limitations in the context of Congaree National Park.

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