An Econometric Analysis of Donations for Environmental Conservation

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  • Funding for the protection of the environment has traditionally come from general tax revenues. Fish and wildlife habitat enhancement and endangered species protection are prominent examples of this phenomenon. In the past few years, however, several aspects of this situation have changed. First, as provincial governments have trimmed budgets, fewer funds are available for environmental conservation programs. Second, many jurisdictions have adopted a model by which private interests and/or users of the resource base help to fund these projects. Examples include the North American Waterfowl Management Program, land purchases by the Nature Conservancy, the Buck-for Wildlife project (in Alberta), and various other public-private joint ventures (Porter and van Kooten 1993). In many of these programs the private funding component is based on memberships or donations to private organizations (e.g. Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited). Thus, funding for conservation is relying more heavily on donations to environmental causes either through direct giving of funds or through memberships in organizations. For wildlife habitat management, a major environmental initiative, a third element of change is that traditional supporters - recreational hunters and anglers - are decreasing in number, particularly in Canada (e.g. Boxall et al. 1991). Traditionally, these supporters were responsible for much of the funding of wildlife conservation programs either through license sales, special 'check-offs' that accompany license sales, or through membership fees and donations to fishing and hunting related organizations. For example, Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited began as hunting and angling organizations respectively and much of their funding has been based on contributions from hunters and anglers. With the numbers of hunters declining 17% over the last 10 years (Filion et al, 1993), and anglers also declining over the same period (e.g. 26% in Alberta), will this traditional funding base remain? This paper explores some determinants of private contributions to environmental conservation activities through an econometric analysis of donations and memberships relating to wildlife habitat protection and enhancement. We are interested in the factors affecting donations in part because we wish to determine if continuing declines in the numbers of hunters and anglers will affect the level of donations to conservation activities. We are also interested in understanding the relationships between income, marginal tax rates (the price of donations) and other variables on the propensity to donate. Given the increasing importance of private funding of wildlife programs, knowledge of these relationships will be important for public and private agencies involved in wildlife conservation.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International