The valuation of wetland conservation in an urban/peri urban watershed

This study estimates the social benefits of wetland conservation in the Credit River watershed, located in an urban/peri urban area in Southern Ontario, Canada. A stated preference approach was employed to value wetland conservation programs which ranged from retaining the existing wetlands to restoring various levels of acres of wetlands over the 2009–2020 period. A total of 1,407 households completed an internet-based survey which presented trade-offs in binary choice scenarios framed as referenda. Responses were analyzed using various models, one of which was a latent class analysis which segmented respondents into three classes. This econometric approach uncovered significant preference heterogeneity for wetland conservation. Assignment of respondents to the classes suggested that about one-third of the sample was willing to pay small amounts to retain the existing wetlands. An additional third was willing to pay several hundred dollars a year for retention and small positive amounts for additional restoration. The final third were apparently willing to pay considerable sums for retention, but lesser amounts for additional restoration. However, further analysis revealed that respondents in this third class largely constituted yea-sayers. These results suggest caution in interpreting associated economic valuation estimates and highlight the importance of attempting to understand hypothetical bias in wetland and other such valuation studies.

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About Eric Miller

I am an Ecological Economist, currently working as a consulting economist and university lecturer. Most of my career has been in the Ontario and federal public service. About half of my work these days relates to ecosystem services: communicating the concept, assessing available information, and proposing ways to integrate the concept and measurement into policies and programs. I earned an MES in Ecological Macroeconomics from York University, a BA in Economics from McMaster University and a BSc in Biology from Carleton University.

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