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Economic valuation of cultural ecosystem service changes to a landscape in the Swiss Alps

Susanne Rewitzer, Robert Huber, Adrienne Grêt-Regamey and Jan Barkmann

Ecosystem Services, 2017, vol. 26, issue PA, 197-208

Abstract: Traditionally managed agrarian landscapes provide several cultural ecosystem services (CES). Still, CES are often not adequately considered in decision-making – partly because of challenges in their quantification and economic valuation. We show that a state-of-the-art application of an economic valuation method to CES can generate meaningful data for supporting real-world, regional decision-making processes. After qualitative pre-studies (semi-structured interviews, stakeholder workshop) and a pilot study (n=117), a discrete choice experiment (n=252 respondents) was administered to a random sample of citizens in the Visp region of the Central Swiss Alps, a site with traditional agrarian landscapes. The design of the choice experiment followed an ecosystem services approach, and uses visualizations to support valuation of aesthetic landscape changes. A response rate of 43% was achieved. Citizen support was expressed for agricultural heritage (P<0.001) and biodiversity-rich dry grasslands (P<0.001). Aesthetic impacts of settlement extension (P<0.001) and of grassland intensification (P<0.001) reduced the economic value of development options impacting the Visp landscape. Estimated marginal willingness-to-pay ranged from 410 CHF (1 CHF approx. 0.8 EUR in 2013)/person/year for 60 additional ha of dry grassland to −833 CHF for the visual impact of settlement expansion (by changes of the tax bill).

Keywords: Cultural ecosystem services; Economic valuation; Choice experiment; Cultural landscape; Mountain region (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:26:y:2017:i:pa:p:197-208