Preferences and Multiple Use Forest Management
Van Rensburg, Thomas M.
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Van Rensburg, T.M.,Mill, G.A., Common, M., & Lovett J., (2004) "Preferences and Multiple Use Forest Management" (Working Paper No. 0085) Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway.
This paper offers evidence relevant to the debate regarding the use of stated willingnessto- pay as a guide to public preferences about environmental management, and the possibility that individuals have distinct preferences according to whether a consumer or a citizen viewpoint is adopted. Multiple-use forest management requires some means of comparing market and non-market forest outputs. With this in mind, attempts are found in the economics literature to reveal public preferences for non-market forest outputs in terms of willingness to pay using contingent valuation studies. On the other hand, it has also been argued in the literature that estimated willingness to pay is not an appropriate or reliable way to capture public preferences. Visitors to a UK forest were surveyed and the forest managers were interviewed. In addition to willingness to pay for productive and recreational forest sites with varying non-market outputs, respondents reported on preferences for forest attributes from both a private/consumer and a social/citizen viewpoint. Our results tend to support the hypothesis that individuals express different preferences when adopting a consumer and a citizen viewpoint, and that the latter viewpoint gives more weight to attributes with less direct and obvious visual appeal. Despite this, visitors' willingness-to-pay estimates varied little whether consumer or citizen explanatory variables were used, and visitors' ranking of the sites on this basis differed from the ranking of forest managers. These results suggest that the consumer/citizen distinction is important, and that valuable information regarding public preferences is omitted if willingness-to-pay alone is used as a guide to decision-making.