The natural heritage as an economic driver: protected areas case studies

Claire Bereziat, Geoff Riddington

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    This research concerns itself with the impact protected areas have on the local business community, investigating economic contribution as well as exploring perceptions of the natural heritage. Four case study areas were chosen for investigation: Forvie national nature reserve (NNR), St Abb’s Head NNR, Beinn Eighe NNR, Loch Lomond NNR. Findings from different sources were triangulated to present an overall picture of the reserves’ relationships with local businesses: NNR visitor research, reserve expenditure, and local business surveys.
    The different NNRs have different relationships with local businesses. Few businesses highlighted negative impacts. A significant proportion of businesses indicated they provided services to visitors who come to the area because of the natural environment (just over a third by Forvie to over half by Loch Lomond). Overall, it was identified that NNRs contribute a limited amount in monetary terms towards the local economy. For the four case study sites the contribution to the local economy was estimated to be at least £1.5 million a year in total, resulting in 27 full-time equivalent jobs. Although the economic importance of NNRs to the local economy is small in absolute terms, in some of the remotest locations it is extremely important and large in relative terms. This report was concerned with local impacts but clearly at regional and national levels this would be more consequent (as some staff live outwith the locality and suppliers come from elsewhere in Scotland). Growth in visitor numbers might be achieved by more information to local businesses. However, the main benefit arises to the Scottish population at large who express a willingness to pay for the conservation of the wildlife. There are also ecosystem services associated with NNRs, including many social/cultural benefits that these areas provide to the local community.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationInverness
    PublisherScottish Natural Heritage
    Commissioning bodyScottish Natural Heritage
    Number of pages170
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • natural heritage
    • local business
    • protected areas
    • economic contribution


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