Forest ecosystems provide human society with a number of ecosystem services (ES) essential for our wellbeing. In order to sustain the supply of ES humans have altered the natural ecosystems to various degrees and maintained them in modified states. The sustenance of human population on earth is intricately associated with the continued availability of ecosystem services. Forest ecosystem provides a variety of benefits to people, including provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services.
The economic value of natural resource as natural asset and capital can be defined as the sum of the discounted present values of the flows of all goods and services from the resource. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, carried out between 2001 and 2005, kept human wellbeing as the central focus for assessment while recognizing that biodiversity and ecosystems also have intrinsic value.Forest benefits may be grouped into three types of environmental value viz direct use value, indirect use value and non use value. The total economic value (TEV) of a forest system refers to the sum of (compatible) values,: i.e. direct and indirect use (and their associated option values), plus non-use values. Different forest land use options will be characterized by a different combination of direct, indirect and non-use values, and thus a different total economic value.
This study presents the methodology used for estimating economic values of various ecosystem services emanating from Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) in India and the estimates of their economic value so derived. The ecosystem services that have been valuated are fuelwood, fodder & grazing, employment generation, tourism, carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation and surrogate pricing. The findings indicate that although the tiger reserve makes a large contribution to local and national economies, inadequate assessment of these values can substantially impact their protection status. ESs can be defined as the returns obtained from natural resources. Sustainable use of these natural resources is therefore essential for a sustained yield of ESs.
The estimates and findings of total annual economic value have been well presented in the result and discussion chapter. STR provides goods and services to the society equivalent to Rs. 4289.57 million (INR) or 61.28 Million US Dollar per annum. (Assessment Year 2018-2019). STR contributes largely towards biodiversity conservation (36.86 %), followed by tourism (19.52 %), carbon sequestration (17.52%) and fodder & grazing (13.12%), and other direct and indirect use value such as fuel wood (8.28%) and employment generation (4.69%) of Total Economic value.Direct use value contributes around 26.09 %, indirect use value contributes around 37.04 %, and non-use value contributes around 36.86 %.From all the ecosystem services that have been a part of this study, STR contributes major part for non-use value, followed by indirect value and direct value.The findings indicate that although tiger reserves make a large contribution to local and national economies, inadequate assessment of these values can substantially impact their protection status. Enhanced investment in tiger reserves is economically rational and has the potential to further enhance the benefits accrued from them. It also indicates that a large proportion of benefits from tiger reserves are intangible, and hence often unaccounted for in market transaction.
The results from the valuation of ecosystem services provided an insight on the monetary value of carbon stock and ecosystem services provided by Sariska Tiger Reserve. This helped in developing an estimate of the percentage of contribution provided by the ecosystem services towards the total valuation of STR. Based on the contribution of different ecosystem services CCBA index was calculated. CCBA index for the benefits arising from carbon sequestration and other ecosystem were compared which was calculated as 1:5. The findings indicate that the value of remaining ecosystem services other than carbon sequestration is 5 times greater than the value of carbon sequestered. Including these ecosystem services in the carbon finance mechanism shall yield 5 times more benefits as compared to the benefits from carbon.
In Sariska Tiger Reserve, forest has been degraded due to unsustainable harvesting of fuelwood and fodder. The main reason for unsustainable harvesting is the presence of twenty six villages inside the core area of the reserve, poor agricultural production, poor distribution system, lack of skilled labours and illiteracy. This has resulted in large dependence on fuelwood extraction for sale and fodder for grazing which is highly unsustainable and a cause of forest degradation. The major constraints identified during the process of relocation of villages from within the core area of the STR are villagers are demanding land option in place of cash option, relocation package for minors who are not eligible and also for widows, villagers are demanding to change the cut-off date (31st March 2008)that has been set for deciding for package, funds and staff available with the forest department are not sufficient to carry out the process of relocation. The forest department is putting in efforts in the management and conservation of protected area but is unable to restrict the harvest of fuelwood and fodder to a sustainable limit. The protected area of Sariska Tiger Reserve has the full potential of trading of enhanced carbon while maintaining the availability of forest resources within sustainable limit both for self consumption as well as for livelihood development.
The study concludes by stating that the study will help in estimating quantification of levels of pressure being faced by the STR, which will further help inidentification and prioritization of factors responsible for enhancing the ecosystem services. The forest department can leverage the data effectively from this study in the management plan for allocation of resources from the government budgetary support. This will also assist the State Forest Department in meeting the requirements inrespect of forest carbon inventory methods that would in turn assess the contribution of forests insequestration of atmospheric carbon.