A choice experiment analysis of public preferences for conservation of biological diversity in the Oregon Coast Range Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3x816q81h

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  • Ecosystem management has become an increasingly mainstream paradigm for natural resource management. Nowhere is this more evident than on the public and private forestland of the Pacific Northwest. While ecosystem management has become a widely accepted principle of resource management, substantial questions remain about its implementation. A case in point is the conservation of biological diversity: within both the scientific literature and the policy debate, it is unclear what are the best methods for its conservation. In addition, the public goods nature of biological diversity limits the ability of managers and policy makers to use economic information to prioritize biodiversity policy goals in making resource management decisions. This study uses a choice experiment (CE) framework to produce utility theoretic estimates of the welfare effects of changes in the level of biodiversity protection under different conservation programs. The sample frame for the study spans Oregon households, with three regional strata (Eastern, Willamette Valley, and Coastal), allowing measurement of regional preference heterogeneity. We present biodiversity policy as an amalgam of four different conservation programs: aquatic habitat conservation, forest rotation management, endangered species protection, and large-scale conservation reserves. The study results indicate substantial support for conservation programs. While WTP is positive for initial increases above baseline levels of protection, results indicate that WTP for large increases fall to zero or become negative, requiring monetary compensation for further increases, substantial increases over the current baseline would generate increased consumer surplus, though overall location of land resources to biodiversity is perceived on average as a welfare loss. The survey instrument included a dichotomous choice contingent valuation WTP elicitation for the purpose of methodological comparison to the CE approach. Results tentatively support the conclusion that the CE approach produces more conservative (lower) estimates of consumer surplus. The study also indicated a strong bias toward the management status quo, though the basis for this preference, and its importance in the context of policy analysis, remains an important subject for further research.
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