Economic Valuation of the Ecosystem Services of National Zoological Park, New Delhi

21 Nov 2019

TERI's study highlights that the total economic value of the five ecosystem services in Delhi Zoo is estimated to be INR 422.76 crore. This study is 'first of its kind' for habitats such as zoological parks in India.

Delhi Zoo

Economic valuation of ecosystem services provides a way of valuing the many benefits that nature provides and helps 'make the contribution of nature to livelihoods and economies visible'. The valuation of ecosystem services provides a powerful tool to enable rational decision-making and eases the incorporation of ecological values into economic policies. This can facilitate more effective planning and management. There is a need for valuation because the environment offers many services that, in essence, are free and do not have any traditional 'market values' attached. Thus, it is necessary to realize the value of ecosystem services to understand their contribution to societal and overall human development.

Zoological parks in India are unique ecosystems that provide numerous services of local and national significance. Apart from their primary function in education and research, many zoos, serve as natural habitats for free-ranging animals. Moreover, such parks are sources of carbon sequestration, air purification, water purification, noise attenuation, etc. The National Zoological Park, New Delhi, is one such park spread across 176 acres. The zoo is home to several species of mammals, birds, and reptiles from around the world. As of 2018, there are 40 species of endangered animals under Schedule I and II categories; 35 species of animals under Schedule III and IV categories; and 29 species of exotic animals as specified under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Apart from enclosures for wild animals and administrative buildings, the zoo sustains a natural environment in its campus which provides habitat for several freeranging floral and faunal species.

In this context, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) had commissioned The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) to conduct a study titled 'Economic valuation of ecosystem services of National Zoological Park, New Delhi' to understand the annual value of key ecosystem services such as biodiversity conservation, carbon storage, and sequestration, employment generation, recreational and cultural, education and research. The results of the study are summarized as follow:

The total annual economic value of ecosystem services

S. No. Ecosystem service Type of service Valuation technique Total value (INR) (crore/ year)
1. Biodiversity conservation Non-use value Contingent valuation 27.33
2. Employment generation Direct-use value Market price 32.19
3. Education and research Indirect-use value Market price 37.6
4. Carbon sequestration Indirect-use value Market price 1.31
5. Recreational and cultural Indirect-use value Individual travel cost method 324.33

The one-time cost of ecosystem services and value of land

S. No. Ecosystem service Type of service Valuation technique Total value (INR/crore
1. Carbon storage Indirect-use value Market price 17.15
2. Surrogate value of land Non-use value Hedonic price method and opportunity cost 25
3. The land value of the Delhi zoo Non-use value Market price (benefit transfer) 55,167.30

The study provides a powerful baseline assessment of the important ecosystem services provided by the zoo. The values these ecosystems encapsulate are very high, even though all the services were not possible to be evaluated. The total economic value of the five ecosystem services is estimated to be INR 422.76 crore and the main contribution comes from recreational and cultural services which were valued to be INR 324.33 crore, annually. This makes an important cause for the preservation of habitats such as the Delhi zoo in contributing to local, national, and global values.

The study is based on the data collected for the year 2019-20 and hence should be considered as the baseline year. More such studies must be replicated across the country to understand the value of zoos. Currently, there are 160 zoos in India which include 17 in the large category, 25 in medium, 35 in small, and 85 in the mini category apart from rescue centers21. Such studies should be mandated at least for large- and medium-category zoos to understand their significance in terms of providing ecosystem services.

Central Zoo Authority

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