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Assessing visitors’ preferences for ecosystem features in a desert biodiversity hotspot


We estimated visitors’ willingness to pay (WTP) for a variety of environmental attributes in a protected area of the Atacama Desert, a biodiversity hotspot in northern Chile. By using a choice experiment, WTP was estimated for the protection of the following attributes: animals (mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds), pollinating insects, plants (cacti and woody shrubs), soil quality and pristine landscapes. Visitors placed economic value on all of the attributes. The marginal mean WTP/visitor for the single levels of variation in the attributes ranged from US$4 (for supporting research on foxes) to US$26 (for maintaining soil quality) per visitor per month. These results can contribute to deciding which attributes are likely to be successful at raising funds for conservation. Our approach may be relevant to protected areas of the world with high conservation values, little funding and a lack of large, charismatic species.

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*Correspondence: Dr Claudia Cerda email:
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Environmental Conservation
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