Each rupee spent on reserve generates benefits of ₹716.3

If monetary values could be assigned to tiger reserves, then the Bandipur Tiger Reserve would record a staggering ₹6,405.7 crore annually, says an economic evaluation of tiger reserves released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. For every rupee spent on the reserve, the rate of return through various tangible and non-tangible benefits is an incredible 700%.

The study, authored by the Centre for Ecological Services Management at the Indian Institute of Forest Management, estimates the economic valuation of Bandipur and nine other tiger reserves in the country. The objective, states the report, is to enhance tiger conservation by highlighting the holistic economic benefits of protected areas.

Researchers used an array of methods to determine the economic, scientific, educational, cultural and recreational services of tiger parks. For Bandipur, the report notes that every rupee spent on the management of the reserve sees the area generate intangible and tangible benefits amounting to nearly ₹716.3.

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The park, it says, generates “flow” benefits of ₹6,405.7 crore annually — translating to around ₹4.41 lakh worth of services per hectare protected. For instance, the cost saved by the State for conservation, protection and provisioning of water was pegged at ₹2,066.95 crore per year, climate regulation at ₹1,443.21 crore, and genepool protection of ₹1,263.74 crore annually. Other benefits include prevention of soil loss, biological control of disease, encouragement to pollination and others.

Apart from this, the stock of timber, sequestered carbon and genepool protection of species is worth a staggering ₹31,476.15 crore annually in the 1,469.69 sq. km. core and buffer areas of the reserve.

The report estimates that 3.06% of the flow benefits are accrued at the local level, while 16.01% are at the national level. The park also contributes nearly 1,121 billion litres of water to the Cauvery worth ₹2,067 crore per year; while the forests prevent soil loss and nutrient loss that would have cost ₹82.59 crore to rectify.

At the global level the reserve’s forests store 1.2 crore tonnes of carbon (worth ₹8,6958 crore), apart from sequestering 3.45 lakh tonnes of carbon annually (or ₹1,418 crore worth of social cost saved annually).