Wednesday 7
Resilience, tourism and protected areas
Meriem Bouamrane
› 11:30 - 12:30 (1h)
"Wow Factors": The Cultural Services of Birds within Private Protected Areas
John Heydinger  1@  
1 : Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology  (PFIAO)  -  Website
DST/NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7701 -  Afrique du Sud

Ecosystem Service research can empower decision-makers to contrast traditional economic arguments with competing valuation claims. However, valuation of Ecosystem Services has done little to effectively connect cultural and natural landscapes. The category of Cultural Services steps into this gap. Variously given as existence value, intrinsic worth, dignity, indigenous beliefs, sociocultural value, and non-utilitarian value, the cultural dimension of Ecosystem Services speaks across a spectrum of concerns raised by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). As a tool to inform, and possibly deepen, existing valuation systems, Cultural Services must be more closely studied and understood. This work is concerned with investigating Cultural Services to develop alternate models for non-use values.

As a ubiquitous and low-maintenance presence across differing protected areas, bird life represents a relatively untapped resource of conservation dollars. Yet, birding opportunities inspire an almost fanatical level of devotion amongst a sub-set of the ecotourist population. Two complimentary approaches are employed to operationalize our understandings of the Cultural Services of birds. First, bird point counts were completed within the private protected areas of the Western Cape, South Africa. Ten private protected areas were surveyed using stratified-random points aimed at recording the relative abundance and composition of avian species. In total 1,720 individual point counts assessing species composition were completed. Second, electronic surveys were conducted to assess birders' level of interest in viewing different species. Surveys questioned a selection of 22 expert South African birders as to their level of interest in viewing different bird species. Respondents assigned scores (from 1-lowest to 10-highest) for a selection of species. Such surveys yielded a “wow factor” score for the resident bird species within the Western Cape. Such “wow factors” indicate the level of interest birders have in engaging in different birding opportunities, by species. Synthesizing these “wow factor” scores with the species lists for each private protected area, provides reserve managers with a tool for assessing the potential for their avian community. Subsequent analysis interrogates the role avian species composition can play in maximizing tourist income across varying private protected areas.

Understanding the willingness of people to pursue different birding opportunities provides managers and owners with feedback concerning management priorities. Where species composition meets the interest of birders, conservation efforts for such social-ecological systems can take root. Protected area managers and owners can employ such tools to more comprehensively address opportunities and challenges across spatial and temporal scales. Heretofore overlooked valuations of the natural expose possible linkages between Cultural Services and resilience, providing novel insights as to how the human/environmental nexus is experienced. Such information broadens our understanding of the value we place upon different aspects of the non-human world.

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