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Benefits from benthic habitats

In order to estimate the benefits of some selected ecosystem goods and services provided by benthic habitats in the Baltic Sea, PREHAB performed a valuation survey. The survey was conducted to elicit the general public’s preferences for species and habitats, food and recreational values.

The valuation survey focused on ecosystem goods and services provided by two PREHAB case-study areas: the Swedish-Finnish Archipelago area and the Lithuanian coast. Based on the econometric analysis of the results, the willingness-to-pay (WTP) was estimated for improvement of the provision of some marine goods and services.

Citizens value a healthy Baltic Sea
The results demonstrate that citizens of the Baltic Sea countries value a clean and healthy sea and are willing to pay for it, although there are regional differences. Also the importance of particular ecosystem services differed among regions, see figure 1. Overall, the willingness to pay (WTP) for marine improvements in each country is large. For instance, in Finland and Sweden, the total WTP for the implementation of the BSAP is about ten times larger than the estimated costs.

Figure 1. Between-country differences in stated importance of ecosystem goods and services. Figure shows the percentage of respondents in each country who stated that the particular ecosystem service is very important in a 5-point scale ranging from very important to not at all important.

A choice experiment survey
We employed the choice experiment survey, a stated preference method. The core of the survey was a questionnaire with a series of choice tasks in which the respondents were asked to compare alternative future environmental states of the study areas, and choose the one they prefer. The alternatives were presented as the combinations of three marine attributes (amount of healthy vegetation, preservation of currently pristine areas, and size of fish stocks) and the monetary payment needed to achieve this state, see figure 2. In January 2011, around 2000 respondents in Finland, Sweden, and Lithuania were contacted by a professional polling company. The data collection resulted in nearly 800 answers from each country.

Figure 2. In the survey, respondents showed their "willingness-to-pay" for alternative future environmental states in the different study areas.

Advantage for management
This type of benefit estimates are useful for management purposes, e.g. in marine spatial planning or cost benefit analysis. The great advantage of the choice experiment method is that, once the impacts of the planned policy on the marine attributes in the questionnaire have been identified, these results can be used to calculate the benefits within the range of the changes used in the survey questionnaire.

 

Download questionnaires
Lithuanian coast (L) (in lithuanian)
Lithuanian coast (E)(in english)
Swedish-Finnish archipelago (F) (in finnish)
Swedish-Finnish archipelago (S) (in swedish)
Swedish-Finnish archipelago (E) (in english)

 

Ideas for valuation

Basic socio-demographic and diverse attitudinal factors are important explanators of the value that the general public places for improvements in the marine environment. When conducting a valuation survey, a large pattern of attitudinal questions would be useful in the investigation of variation in the WTP.

Multiple ecosystem services provided by the marine environment are interrelated in a complex way. In the estimation of benefits from improvement in the provision of selected services, the quantitative description of services is preferable.

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