2002 Progress Report: Web-Based Methods for Valuing Wetland Services

EPA Grant Number: R827922
Title: Web-Based Methods for Valuing Wetland Services
Investigators: Hoehn, John P. , Lupi, Frank , Kaplowitz, Michael D.
Institution: Michigan State University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 1, 1999 through September 30, 2002 (Extended to November 30, 2003)
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2002
Project Amount: $227,758
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


The project develops and tests Web-based methods for valuing wetland ecosystem characteristics and services. Previous research shows that nonmarket services, including habitat services, are associated with wetland ecosystems. The value of these services may be measured using nonmarket valuation methods. Previous research shows that these nonmarket values are economically significant relative to other wetland values. Previous results, however, have been criticized for placing too much emphasis on the question,"What is the value?" and not enough emphasis on "What it is that people value?" The objective of this research project is to examine what people value regarding wetlands ecosystems. A Web-based, stated-preference questionnaire is developed and used to elicit respondents' evaluations of wetlands with different types of services and characteristics. The relative values of the different services and characteristics are estimated using the elicited evaluations.

Progress Summary:

Research during 2000-2002 developed a theory of ecosystem valuation and applied it to the problem of designing a Web-based, stated-preference questionnaire to evaluate wetland protection and restoration. In 2001, we carried out extensive qualitative research on the public's perceptions of wetland ecosystems and the words and concepts used by the public in considering human impacts on wetland ecosystems. The research during 2001 used the valuation theory and qualitative results of the research conducted in 2000, to draft stated-preference questionnaire prototypes. The questionnaires were designed to elicit pair-wise rankings of drained and restored wetlands. Questionnaires were refined and tested in an iterative process that began with three focus groups, followed by a mix of focus groups and individual interviews, and ended with pretests of 60 respondents.

In 2002, we transferred the tested questionnaire prototype to a Web-based program, tested the online version in a pretest study, and began a large-scale online survey of the general public in Michigan. The online questionnaire was designed with three primary components. The first component was an invitation e-mail to be sent to each survey respondent. Each e-mail was individually encoded so that the respondents could answer the questionnaire only once, but it also allowed them to complete the questionnaire at different times and sittings. The second component was the online questionnaire interface. The interface was written to be compatible with popular browsers such as Microsoft Explorer and Netscape Communicator. The interface was made to appear much like a paper questionnaire, with the questions listed serially on different pages, and with buttons and check-boxes to elicit respondents' answers. The third component was an online database. As each respondent filled out and paged through the questionnaire, the responses were sent via the Internet to the real-time database program residing in a server at the Michigan State University campus.

The prototype e-mail, questionnaire, and database interviewing system was pretested in a small-scale survey during July and August 2002. Respondents were selected using random-digit, telephone dialing, and invited to participate in an online survey. Respondents were sent e-mail instructions on how to link to the online survey by clicking on an individually encoded hyperlink. Respondents used a wide range of browsers and connection protocols, providing a wide range of test conditions for the e-mail/online questionnaire protocol.

Respondents were contacted a day or two after the e-mail invitation was sent to debrief each respondent regarding the e-mail and online questionnaire. Debriefing questions indicated that respondents' understanding and use of the online questionnaire were similar to those of the paper version of the questionnaire. A range of comments was recorded regarding the questionnaire content, but there appeared to be no definite trend or tendency in the comments that might require significant revisions in the content or format of the questionnaire.

A number of minor technical problems arose during the survey. These minor technical issues included e-mail programs that split the hyperlink in two so that it became nonfunctional, and problems with browsers that would not accept cookies. Programming staff developed solutions to address each of the identified technical problems.

The main survey components were identical to the pretest: e-mail invitation, online questionnaire, and remote, online database. The e-mail invitations were sent to a sample of the general public drawn from Michigan residents. The sample selection process and mailing of e-mails were conducted by Survey Sampling, Incorporated, under subcontract to Michigan State University.

The survey sample was carried out in six waves of e-mails over a 10-week period, beginning in early October and ending in mid-December 2002. The six waves allowed the experimental design of the choice questions to be updated dynamically across successive waves. The survey was completed on schedule with an approximate total of 3,400 total hits and 2,500 complete responses to the stated choice questions for wetland preservation and restoration.

Future Activities:

In the next year, we will analyze the data obtained in the 2002 online survey. Papers will be presented at several major conferences and professional meetings. We will finalize manuscripts now in review and submit additional manuscripts for publication in professional journals and other outlets.

Journal Articles on this Report : 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 27 publications 5 publications in selected types All 3 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Hoehn JP, Lupi F, Kaplowitz MD. Untying a Lancastrian bundle: valuing ecosystems and ecosystem services for wetland mitigation. Journal of Environmental Management 2003;68(3):263-272. R827922 (2002)
R827922 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: Science Direct HTML
  • Other: Science Direct PDF
  • Journal Article Kaplowitz MD, Hoehn JP. Do focus groups and individual interviews reveal the same information for natural resource valuation? Ecological Economics 2001;36(2):237-247. R827922 (2002)
    R827922 (Final)
  • Full-text: Science Direct HTML
  • Abstract: Science Direct Abstract
  • Other: Science Direct PDF
  • Journal Article Lupi F, Kaplowitz MD, Hoehn JP. The economic equivalency of drained and restored wetlands in Michigan. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 2002;84(5):1355-1361. R827922 (2002)
    R827922 (Final)
  • Abstract: JSTOR first page
  • Other: EconPapers Citation
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    nonmarket valuation, preferences, internet, survey, Michigan, MI, habitat, environmental assets, econometric modeling, economic, social, behavioral, waste, ecology, ecosystems, economics, hydrology, remediation, social science, urban planning, regional planning, decision-making, aquatic ecosystems, decision analysis, deliberative policy, econometric analysis, economic tradeoffs, environmental policy, environmental values, policy analysis, public policy, public values, Web-based methods., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, decision-making, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, policy analysis, surveys, deliberative policy, decision analysis, web-based methods, environmental values, environmental policy, aquatic ecosystems, public values, public policy, stated preference, wetlands preservation, economic tradeoffs

    Relevant Websites:

    http://wetland.rd.msu.edu Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2003
  • Final Report