A Comparison of Contingent Valuation Methodology and Ecological Assessment as Techniques for Incorporating Ecological Goods into Land-use Decisions
Contingent valuation methodology (CVM) was used to elicit financial willingness-to-pay bids for five separate sites in southern Scotland. The sites were ranked in decreasing order of the willingness-to-pay to preserve the sites, and this ranking was compared with that obtained from an ecological evaluation of the sites. The major results of this analysis were threefold. Firstly the ranking of sites according to willingness-topay bids did not show good agreement with the ranking according to ecological assessments. Secondly the public valued the landscape, ease of access and openness of the study sites higher than species-related criteria, and finally although increased species richness appeared to provide increased utility to respondents, they were not willing to pay more for the provision of this good. These results suggest that the use of CVM for valuing ecological goods will produce different results to traditional ecological assessments. Although theoretically the provision of better information may increase the accuracy of the CVM results, this may not be easy to undertake in practice. Given these conclusions it is suggested that, given the current state of knowledge, CVM should not be utilized for aiding land-use decisions in the short term.
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