Managing the wildlife tourism commons

Enrico Pirotta, David Lusseau

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27 Citations (Scopus)
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The nonlethal effects of wildlife tourism can threaten the conservation status of targeted animal populations. In turn, such resource depletion can compromise the economic viability of the industry. Therefore, wildlife tourism exploits resources that can become common pool and that should be managed accordingly. We used a simulation approach to test whether different management regimes (tax, tax and subsidy, cap, cap and trade) could provide socioecologically sustainable solutions. Such schemes are sensitive to errors in estimated management targets. We determined the sensitivity of each scenario to various realistic uncertainties in management implementation and in our knowledge of the population. Scenarios where time quotas were enforced using a tax and subsidy approach, or they were traded between operators were more likely to be sustainable. Importantly, sustainability could be achieved even when operators were assumed to make simple rational economic decisions. We suggest that a combination of the two regimes might offer a robust solution, especially on a small spatial scale and under the control of a self-organized, operator-level institution. Our simulation platform could be parameterized to mimic local conditions and provide a test bed for experimenting different governance solutions in specific case studies.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-741
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number3
Early online date1 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

This work received funding from the MASTS pooling initiative (the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) and their support is gratefully acknowledged.MASTS is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011) and contributing institutions. This work was stimulated by discussions with the Moray Firth Dolphin Space Programme and we particularly thank Ben Leyshon (Scottish Natural Heritage) for fruitful discussions. The authors would like to thank K. Barton and C. Konrad for their advice on biased random walks and correlated random fields, D.Murphy for useful discussions during the development of the simulations, and M. Marcoux for important comments on an earlier version of this work. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers, whose comments have greatly improved the manuscript.


  • common pool resource
  • management error
  • management regimes
  • overexploitation
  • sociological simulations
  • wildlife tourism


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