Measuring Societal Perceptions, Attitudes, and Economic Benefits of Ecological Integrity and Biodiversity by Extending Contingent Valuation Method SurveysEPA Grant Number: R824886
Title: Measuring Societal Perceptions, Attitudes, and Economic Benefits of Ecological Integrity and Biodiversity by Extending Contingent Valuation Method Surveys
Investigators: Loomis, John , Covich, Alan , Fausch, Kurt , Kent, Paula , Strange, Liz
Institution: Colorado State University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: July 1, 1996 through April 1, 1999
Project Amount: $114,998
RFA: Valuation and Environmental Policy (1995) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Economics and Decision Sciences
Drawing on our interdisciplinary expertise, we will translate the concept and measurement of ecological integrity into the flow of services provided by maintaining intact, self-regulating ecosystems. We will then develop diagrammatic and narrative presentations to communicate these services using survey instruments. We will administer the survey using in-person interview techniques to the general public as well as to knowledgeable interest groups to measure: 1) attitudes toward native versus non-native species; 2) importance of restoring a Western Great Plains aquatic ecosystem and 3) their willingness to pay to protect more diverse, self-regulating ecosystems. A specific purpose of this project is to test the feasibility of measuring public knowledge about, attitudes toward, and willingness to pay for restoration of ecological integrity. We will measure the direct use and public trust values of increased in-stream flow and water quality in terms of supporting a diversity of interconnected species, riparian vegetation, and recreation opportunities. This measurement will be accomplished using a variety of social indicators including attitudes, preferences, ordinal rankings, and willingness to pay.
The public's willingness to pay is an important indicator of the social value of ecosystems because this measure can be compared to the various opportunity costs associated with maintaining in-stream flow and water quality as well as the monetary costs of restoration. We also plan to measure baseline knowledge and perceptions of the general public regarding the trade-offs and benefits of maintaining current riverine ecosystems and restoring degraded ones. These views of the general public will be compared with more knowledgeable individuals in conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and Trout Unlimited.
Two different formats for asking the willingness to pay question will be compared. The double-bound dichotomous choice willingness to pay question approach will be compared to the recently proposed one and one-half bound question format (Cooper and Hanemann, 1995). We will determine if the gain in precision in benefit estimates (as measured by confidence intervals) resulting from the double-bound approach can be obtained using the one and one-half bound approach that appears to avoid the correlation of the follow-up response with the initial response that may occur with the double-bound dichotomous choice question format.
One outcome of this research will be a better understanding of the public's perception, knowledge and value of protecting a riverine ecological system. The research will also draw lessons about survey design useful to others attempting to measure the economic value of ecosystems and enhancing ecological integrity.