Ecological and economic valuation of managed realignment sites, Humber Estuary, UK : benefits for society
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2012 Natasha Bhatia. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
The valuation of ecosystem services through economic methods has exponentially increased in last twenty years. However these studies seldom incorporate the specific influence of the study sites’ ecological development on the local populations’ economic valuation. The primary aim of this thesis is to ecologically and economically value the societal benefits provided by four managed realignment sites on the Humber estuary, UK. Choice experiment and contingent valuation interview surveys were conducted with local residents, eliciting their willingness to pay (WTP) values for both maintenance of their closest site, and access to it. Results from the economic valuation for each site were then related to their ecological status, to see whether these two aspects were interconnected. Generalised Linear Modelling and Decision Tree Analysis, as well as exploratory techniques such as Pearsons Chi-square, coplot analysis and principal component analysis, were employed to determine which explanatory variables, such as socio-demographic details or details regarding the participants’ interaction with the site, were significant influences on their WTP values. The main influencing explanatory variables proved to influence both WTP maintenance values and WTP access values in a similar manner. These included the distance that the participant lived from the site, the frequency which they visited, whether they had knowledge of the site prior to completing the survey, and their annual household income. Average WTP for maintenance values for the four sites were: £7.32, £3.13, £9.29 and £6.96. Average WTP for access values were: £4.64, £0.28, £6.20 and £4.43, suggesting that participants are willing to pay more for the non-use values that maintenance of the site provides, rather than use-values provided by access to the site. In addition, the sites with higher WTP values are also the sites which have a more developed ecological status, such as a wider area of vegetation coverage and higher diversity and abundance of fauna. Furthermore, the sites which offered supplementary facilities such as easier admittance for visitors through designated footpaths and disabled access, specialised apparatus for interaction with the fauna (such as bird hides), information boards or car parking areas; received a higher valuation from the local population than the sites which were difficult to access or had no facilities. These additional facilities are provided to enhance the participants’ ability to appreciate the ecology of the site, therefore results show that the sites with a more developed and diverse ecological system will have a higher economic value than those which have a less developed ecology. The findings have implications for policy makers in terms of future managed realignment site creation. The results suggest that public involvement at conception through to implementation ultimately results in a higher ecological and economic value of the site. This also encourages a higher visit frequency through creating a site which is not only effective in its management purpose but also has a complex ecological status and is ‘visitor friendly’.
- Business School, The University of Hull
- Elliott, M. (Michael), 1952 November 3-; Atkins, Jonathan P.
- Sponsor (Organisation)
- University of Hull
- Qualification level
- Qualification name
- 4 MB