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Kaziranga price: Rs 2200cr

Guwahati, Jan. 28: Kaziranga tiger reserve now has a price tag, but it's not for sale.

Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) has conducted a study to assess the tiger reserve in terms of money for the first time, on the request of National Tiger Conservation Authority.

The study - Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves: A Value Plus Approach - has estimated the stock of Kaziranga tiger reserve at Rs 2,240 crore, which includes carbon storage and standing timber stock while the benefits flowing from it have been estimated at Rs 980 crore.

Five other tiger reserves were included in the study.

The study said the objective of establishing tiger reserves under the Project Tiger was to ensure continuity of natural evolutionary processes in the wild but tiger reserves provide a range of associated economic, social, cultural and spiritual benefits, termed as ecosystem services. Some of the benefits are provisioning of clean air and water, protection of genetic information, alleviating natural hazards such as storms and floods and mitigating climate change by storing of large amounts of carbon.

Important ecosystem services originating from Kaziranga include habitat and refuge for wildlife, gene-pool protection, recreation value, biological control and carbon sequestration.

The report said the standing stock of timber in Kaziranga tiger reserve, which is about 1.07 million cubic metres, has significant economic value.

The economic value of this resource using an average price of timber at Rs 25,000/cubic metre and accounting for maintenance and transportation costs at 20 per cent of the market price is approximately Rs 21.4 billion.

"While the costs of biodiversity losses are felt, they can go unnoticed at national and international levels because of non-availability of valuation systems, leading to weaker policies. Public policies have an essential role to play in ensuring that the main types of benefits from nature are identified and applied in decision-making to avoid gross underestimation of the overall value of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services," IIFM director Giridhar Kinhal said.

"It is a good study but more data is required to give a better economic assessment of Kaziranga," field director of Kaziranga M.K. Yadava told The Telegraph.

Wildlife biologist Firoz Ahmed, who has been involved in tiger camera-trapping studies on Kaziranga, said local experts should have been consulted for a better economic assessment.

Information of many ecosystem services like water provisioning, water purification, nutrient cycling could not be gathered because of paucity of information and they could not be added to the economic value.

"The tiger reserve is bestowed with unique wetland ecosystems which serve as important nurseries for numerous fish population, including Indian major carps. Many fishes go into the Brahmaputra along with the receding floodwaters and recharge the fish stock in the river and its tributaries. However, these linkages have not been studied and their estimates are not available," the report said.

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