JOURNAL OF NATURAL RESOURCES ›› 2019, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (4): 839-852.doi: 10.31497/zrzyxb.20190413

• Resource Evaluation • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Conservation cost of China's nature reserves and its regional distribution

YANG Zhe1(), WU Jian2()   

  1. 1. School of Economics, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266071, Shandong, China
    2. School of Environment and Natural resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
  • Received:2018-09-20 Revised:2019-01-07 Online:2019-04-20 Published:2019-04-20


In-situ conservation is an important measure to protect biodiversity. By the end of 2017, China had established 2750 nature reserves, accounting for 14.9% of China's land area, which exceeds the world average. However, management failure is still serious. The effective management of nature reserves requires adequate funding. Based on a thorough study of the cost estimation methods for nature reserves and relevant management standards, this paper develops a conservation cost model of nature reserves, and estimates the management cost and opportunity cost of nature reserves in China. The results show that: (1) The conservation cost of all nature reserves in China is 504.9 billion yuan in 2014, accounting for 0.78% of the national GDP of the year, far lower than the cost of environmental damage and the economic value of the products and services of the nature reserve ecosystem, so the nature reserve system is economically justified. (2) In order to meet the management standards, the nature reserves in China require approximately 8.59 billion yuan annually. But the actual total investment is much lower than the fund request, reflecting overall funding gaps, and the inequality of fund allocation among nature reserves. (3) The management costs show obvious geographical differences. The nature reserves in the western and northeastern regions have high ecological value and large demand for management funds, while the economy is relatively undeveloped and the local financial pressure is relatively high. The national government should give more support to the nature reserves in the western and northeastern regions. (4) The annual opportunity cost of nature reserves in China is approximately 496.3 billion yuan, reflecting the huge economic pressure on the local society. However, the ecological compensation for nature reserves is in short supply. Governments need to improve ecological compensation mechanism for nature reserves to solve the dilemma between nature conservation and the development of surrounding communities.

Key words: nature reserve, conservation cost, management cost, opportunity cost, regional distribution