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Willingness to pay for ecosystem conservation in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest: a choice modeling study

Evan E. Hjerpe, Conservation Economics Institute
Anwar Hussain, Forest Policy Center, Auburn University; Conservation Economics Institute


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Forest ecosystems contribute to human welfare in important ways, but because of the nonmarket nature of many of the goods and services produced, both markets and governments fail to optimize their production commensurate with their economic and ecological significance. Despite the recent proliferation of nonmarket environmental valuation in the literature, the incorporation of nonmarket values into public forest decision making has been limited by institutional and methodological barriers. To address this disconnect, we conducted a case study to quantify conservation values for the Tongass National Forest in a manner conducive for public forest planning. A choice experiment featuring proposed forest management alternatives with changes in critical attributes relative to their levels in the status quo was used to generate the requisite data. Econometric analysis suggests that Alaskans have strong preference for conservation management, including both preservation and ecological restoration, over status quo or exploitation management. However, there is significant heterogeneity among Alaskans in terms of bias toward the status quo depending on their socioeconomic characteristics, e.g., gender, age, place of residence, household income, whether or not they have dependent children. The findings of this study can be helpful to forest managers in the preparation of resource management plans consistent with maximization of total economic value of forest ecosystem services.

Key words

choice experiment; conservation economics; ecological restoration; nonmarket valuation; old-growth forests; Tongass National Forest

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087