When nature conservation organizations establish protected areas, they face both the upfront cost of acquisition and the recurrent, subsequent costs of managing that area over the years. Those management costs can outweigh acquisition cost and become the main driver of investments when considering longer terms.
As a consequence, disregarding management costs might lead to biased decision making and conservation planning.
We surveyed management costs incurred over 14 years for 42 Central and Southern Appalachian protected areas acquired by a large land trust, The Nature Conservancy.
We explored what ecological and socio-economic characteristic drive management costs, using a model selection and averaging approach. We found significant economies of scales and that the proximity of an area to more agricultural or protected land is consistently associated with increased management expenditures. Prescribed burns are also a strong driver for those costs, while the link between spending and resulting (perceived) ecological benefits is unclear.
More details and figures to come...