Original Research

Tourists’ perceptions and willingness to pay for the control of Opuntia stricta invasion in protected areas: A case study from South Africa

Natasha Nikodinoska, Llewellyn C. Foxcroft, Mathieu Rouget, Alessandro Paletto, Sandra Notaro
Koedoe | Vol 56, No 1 | a1214 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v56i1.1214 | © 2014 Natasha Nikodinoska, Llewellyn C. Foxcroft, Mathieu Rouget, Alessandro Paletto, Sandra Notaro | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 November 2013 | Published: 02 July 2014

About the author(s)

Natasha Nikodinoska, Department of Environmental Sciences, Parthenope University of Naples, Italy
Llewellyn C. Foxcroft, South African National Parks, Conservation Services, Skukuza, South Africa and Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Mathieu Rouget, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Alessandro Paletto, Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Forest Monitoring and Planning Research Unit (CRA-MPF), Villazzano, Trento, Italy
Sandra Notaro, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italy


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Abstract

Invasive alien plants have a long history of establishment in the national parks of South Africa.In particular, Opuntia stricta (sour prickly pear) has invaded several protected areas in thecountry, threatening the biodiversity conservation mandate of these conservation areas. Thisarticle focuses on the economic estimation of O. stricta’s negative impacts in protected areas byusing Contingent Valuation surveys conducted amongst a sample of tourists in the PilanesbergNational Park (North West Parks and Tourism Board, South Africa). Tourists’ familiarity andawareness of selected invasive alien plants and their willingness to pay for the implementationof a control programme for O. stricta were assessed. The results show that many tourists arefamiliar with invasive alien plants and their (positive and negative) impacts and, in particular,perceived the presence of O. stricta to be negative, due to the impacts on aesthetics and recreation.Socio-demographic characteristics, as well as individual attitudes and biocentric beliefs, have aninfluence on the willingness to contribute financially to a control programme for O. stricta. Theindividual willingness to pay assessment found that the majority of respondents (78%) werewilling to pay a higher entrance fee (an additional R57.30 or $7.00 per day) for a hypotheticalprogramme to control the invasion of O. stricta in the Pilanesberg National Park.

Conservation implications: The willingness of tourists to pay for O. stricta managementprovides useful insights in the decision-making process of park management. The resultsare encouraging, since, in general, tourists are aware of the problem and are in support ofproviding additional economic input for preventing future alien plant invasions.


Keywords

Invasive alien plants; landscape and recreational values; Opuntia stricta; perceptions; Pilanesberg National Park; South Africa; tourists

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