Economic value of protected areas via visitor mental health

We evaluate methods to calculate the economic value of protected areas derived from the improved mental health of visitors. A conservative global estimate using quality-adjusted life years, a standard measure in health economics, is US$6 trillion p.a. This is an order of magnitude greater than the global value of protected area tourism, and two to three orders greater than global aggregate protected area management agency budgets. Future research should: refine this estimate using more precise methods; consider interactions between health and conservation policies and budgets at national scales; and examine links between personalities and protected area experiences at individual scale.

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