Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 1431–1451 | Cite as

Can conservation in protected areas and visitor preferences converge? An empirical study in Central Chile

  • Claudia CerdaEmail author
  • Juan Pablo Fuentes
  • Gabriel Mancilla
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biodiversity appreciation and engagement


The assessment of visitors’ willingness to pay (WTP) to achieve scenarios that guarantee good conservation status in protected areas and that positively contribute to visitor experience is crucial to revealing the potential to harmonize the development of nature-based tourism and the conservation of biodiversity. We estimated visitors’ WTP for a variety of environmental attributes in a protected area in a biodiversity hotspot in central Chile. Using a choice experiment (CE), WTP was estimated for the protection of animals, plants, and soil; for guaranteeing the provision of ecosystem services related to water resources; and for increasing touristic infrastructure. Among animals and plants, the marginal mean WTP/visitor/visit for single levels of variation in the attribute ranged from ~ US $1.4 (for herbaceous species) to ~ US $7 (for birds). The WTP for soil protection in camping areas and walking trails reached a mean of ~ US $2.8. The mean WTP for guaranteeing the provision of water benefits ranged from US $− 1.98 (for activities such as hydroelectricity and mining) to ~ US $5.6 (for the conservation of biodiversity and ecological processes). Small increases in infrastructure for recreation are well accepted by visitors (a mean WTP of US $1.50) compared to medium or large increases, which generate a negative WTP. Our results indicate that the protected area conservation and visitor preferences can converge. Broader assessments that include multiple biological attributes have emerged as useful approaches in designing management strategies for protected areas that align with conservation goals and visitor preferences.


Willingness to pay Nature-based tourism Protected areas Soil Vegetation Less-popular biodiversity 



We thank Camila Morini, Nicolás Marín and Ana Fernández for data collection. We also thank the reserve rangers for their unconditional support and the Chilean Forest National Corporation (CONAF) for authorizing the research.


Funding was provided by the Native Forest Research Fund, Project 0029/2012.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Cerda
    • 1
    Email author
  • Juan Pablo Fuentes
    • 1
  • Gabriel Mancilla
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Forestry Sciences and Conservation of NatureUniversity of ChileLa Pintana, Santiago de ChileChile
  2. 2.Regional Water Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones in Latin America and the Caribbean (CAZALAC)La SerenaChile

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