Web-Based Methods for Valuing Wetland ServicesEPA Grant Number: R827922
Title: Web-Based Methods for Valuing Wetland Services
Investigators: Hoehn, John P. , Kaplowitz, Michael D. , Lupi, Frank
Institution: Michigan State University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: October 1, 1999 through September 30, 2002 (Extended to November 30, 2003)
Project Amount: $227,758
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Economics and Decision Sciences
The project develops and tests web-based methods for valuing wetland ecosystem characteristics and services. Previous research shows that non-market services, including habitat services, are associated with wetland ecosystems. The value of these services may be measured using non-market valuation methods. Previous research shows that these non-market values are economically significant relative to other wetland values. However, previous results have been criticized for placing too much emphasis on the question of "What is the value?" and not enough emphasis on "What it is that people value?" The objective of the research is examine what it is that people value regarding wetlands ecosystems. A web-based, stated preference questionnaire will be developed and used to elicit respondents evaluations of wetlands with different types of services and characteristics. The relative value of the different services and characteristics will be estimated using the elicited evaluations.
The research will develop an interactive, web-based wetland valuation survey questionnaire that will be applied to a selected sample. Qualitative research will be used to learn about what the public might value about different wetland types. The qualitative findings will be used to construct a questionnaire that uses lay concepts and terms and is readily understood by respondents. The qualitative research will be used to identify gaps in respondents' knowledge. A scientific data base will be developed to fill in these gaps and answer respondents' needs for more information. The web-based questionnaire will allow respondents to query and interact with the information database as they complete a series of stated preference valuation questions. The interactive process will be refined and analyzed in a series of pretests. The web-based medium will also facilitate the representation and comparison of wetlands with different features and characteristics. The stated preference questions about wetland characteristics will be based on a statistically efficient, adaptive experimental design. The web-assisted, adaptive design will update the described levels of characteristics given the preference data obtained in previous questions. The final questionnaire will be administered to a selected sample. The sample will be structured to test the effects of information on elicited preferences and to estimate the relative values of alternative wetland types and characteristics. Discrete choice methods including a heteroskedastic logit model will be used in the estimation process.
The web-based questionnaire provides an alternative method for eliciting stated preferences and wetland values through wide area survey samples. The interactive approach encourages valuation choices by respondents that are informed by the best available scientific information. A comparison of alternative informational treatments sheds light on the extent that the scientific information may influence respondents' choices. The questionnaire and estimation procedures will provide a template for valuing other complex habitats and ecosystems. The estimated economic values for wetlands characteristics will be useful in assessing the economic tradeoffs of national and regional policies for wetlands remediation and compensation. Knowledge of the economic tradeoffs across wetland characteristics will help in identifying the policies that provide the greatest environmental benefit for a given policy cost.