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Valuing environmental education as a cultural ecosystem service at Hudson River Park

Walter Hutcheson, Porter Hoagland and Di Jin

Ecosystem Services, 2018, vol. 31, issue PC, 387-394

Abstract: The Hudson River and its estuary is once again an ecologically, economically, and culturally functional component of New York City’s natural environment. The estuary's cultural significance may derive largely from environmental education, including marine science programs for the public. These programs are understood as “cultural†ecosystem services but are rarely evaluated in economic terms. We estimated the economic value of the Hudson River Park’s environmental education programs. We compiled data on visits by schools and summer camps from 32 New York City school districts to the Park during the years 2014 and 2015. A “travel cost†approach was adapted from the field of environmental economics to estimate the value of education in this context. A small—but conservative—estimate of the Park’s annual education program benefits ranged between $7500 and 25,500, implying an average capitalized value on the order of $0.6 million. Importantly, organizations in districts with high proportions of minority students or English language learners were found to be more likely to participate in the Park’s programs. The results provide an optimistic view of the benefits of environmental education focused on urban estuaries, through which a growing understanding of ecological systems could lead to future environmental improvements.

Keywords: Ecosystem services; Environmental education; Hudson River; Economic benefits; Travel cost method; Urban (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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