Using Land as a Control Variable in Density-Dependent Bioeconomic Models
The bioeconomic analysis of endangered species without consumptive values can be problematic when analysed with density-dependent models that assume a fixed environment size. Most bioeconomic models use harvest as a control variable, yet when modelling non-harvestable species, frequently the only variable under control of conservationists is the quantity of habitat to be made available. The authors explore the implications of this in a model developed to analyse the potential population recovery of New Zealand’s yellow-eyed penguin. The penguin faces severe competition with man for the terrestrial resources required for breeding and has declined in population to perilously low levels. The model was developed to estimate the land use required for recovery and preservation of the species and to compare the results to current tourism-driven conservation efforts. It is demonstrated that land may serve as a useful control variable in bioeconomic models and that such a model may be useful for determining whether sufficient incentives exist to preserve a species. However, the model may generate less useful results for providing a specific estimate of the optimal allocation of land to such a species.