Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 1-22

First online:

Optimal Dynamic Control of Visitors and Endangered Species in a National Park

  • Birgit Bednar-FriedlAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of GrazWegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz Email author 
  • , Doris A. BehrensAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of KlagenfurtDepartment of Mathematical Methods in Economics, Vienna University of Technology
  • , Michael GetznerAffiliated withDepartment of Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, Vienna University of Technology

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To enable visitors to enjoy nature while protecting endangered species is the key challenge for national parks around the world. In our optimal dynamic control model, a park management maximizes tourism revenues and conservation benefits net of control costs by choosing optimal dynamic levels of conservation and visitor management. The optimization is constrained by an extended food chain model representing species-habitat-visitor interactions. We illustrate for a game bird in an Alpine national park that ecotourism can indeed lead to ecosystem degradation when the park management is more concerned about increasing tourism revenues than about achieving the conservation target and if the endangered species is unknown to most visitors. If, however, the park management is well aware of the potentially negative consequences of ecotourism and hence cares for species conservation, limited ecotourism can provide funding for species conservation which ensures population levels above the uncontrolled steady state.


Bioeconomic model Financing and managing national parks Ecotourism Optimal dynamic control Species conservation

JEL Classification

C61 Q26 Q28 Q57