A big sign made by EfD-Central America and CATIE provides information for visitors and the importance of donations to enter the Park.
In 2007 and 2008 EfD-Central America Center senior research fellow Francisco Alpizar, Anna Norden (currently PhD student at the University of Gothenburg), and EfD-Sweden senior research fellow Peter Martinsson conducted a study about Cahuita National park and its unique donation system to enter the Park. This park depends on voluntary donations for its management and operations.
The study consisted mainly of two parts. First, a natural field experiment using different treatments to evaluate different strategies to increase visitors' donations to the park. The treatments included information of donations in the range of US$1 to US$6 given by other visitors; a suggestion of a donation in the same range; and the gift of a full color map with detailed information about the park (a number of visitors didn’t have any kind of treatment, i.e. no information or gift was given to them). The study also included a stated preference method to evaluate the possible effects on having a mixed payment system of entrance fees and donations in the park. One of the conclusions from this research is that information affects visitors’ willingness to give a donation to the park.
The researchers working on this study had a lot of support both by the park administration as well as by the local community. As a token of gratitude the research team designed a sign with information about the park’s unique donation system and the importance of donation s for the management of the Cahuita National park and the community. The park rangers placed the sign in a located where a lot of visitors would see it (not at the entrance to the park but by the showers). According to the park guards the information is now well read and visitors are coming back to the entrance to give a donation!
This is the kind of policy interactions EfD Central America researchers work to do.