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Valuing Biodiversity, Aesthetics, and Job Losses Associated with Ecosystem Management Using Stated Preferences

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Abstract:



The study performs a joint estimation of the values for three important attributes of forest ecosystem management—biodiversity, aesthetics, and rural employment impacts using a choice-based, stated preference approach. It develops the marginal willingness-to-pay schedule for the three attributes for timber rural, other rural, and urban communities in Washington State. In contrast to the conventional wisdom in neoclassical economics, the public perceives job losses as losses of social welfare in this study. There are differences as well as similarities among the preferences of the three communities for the attributes of ecosystem management. The results show that the overall preferences of the timber rural and urban communities towards ecosystem management are substantially different, while the preferences of other rural community are not statistically significantly different from the other two communities. The estimated environmental and social values make it possible for policy makers and resource managers to compare and assess the trade-offs of different management plans. For example, with the biodiversity index level at 60, where an index of 50 relates current conditions, and rural forest-related job losses at 5,000, each household in urban communities in Washington State is willing to pay $31.44 annually for an additional unit of improvement of biodiversity, and $45.97 annually for avoiding an additional 1,000 rural job losses. The trade-off relationship for the given biodiversity and job loss levels suggests each household in urban communities each year is willing to trade 684 additional rural forest-related job losses with one unit of biodiversity improvement, ceteris paribus. Similar trade-off relationships for households in timber and other rural communities suggest each is willing to trade 598 and 388 additional rural forest-related job losses, respectively, with one unit of biodiversity improvement, ceteris paribus. The trade-off between aesthetics and job losses are 1,229, 452, and 686 additional jobs with one unit of aesthetics improvement for urban, timber, and other rural households, respectively. The trade-off relationships provide important information for improving the efficiency and equity of forest ecosystem management. FOR. SCI. 49(2):247–257.

Keywords: Environmental valuation; aesthetics; biodiversity; ecosystem management; employment; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; stated preferences; willingness-to-pay

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Principal Economist The Texas A&M University System, Texas Forest Service, 301 Tarrow, Suite 364, College Station, TX, 77840, Phone: (979) 458-6659; Fax: (979) 458-6655 w-xu@tamu.edu 2: Professor College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Box 352100 Seattle, WA, 98195, Phone: (206) 616-3218 blippke@u.washington.edu 3: Associate Professor College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Box 352100 Seattle, WA, 98195, Phone: (206) 616-3218 perjohm@u.washington.edu

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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