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The effect of a UNESCO world heritage site designation on willingness to pay to preserve an agri-environmental good: The case of the dry stone walls in Mt. Etna

Gioacchino Pappalardo, Grant Howard West, Rodolfo Nayga (), Sabrina Toscano and Biagio Pecorino

Land Use Policy, 2022, vol. 114, issue C

Abstract: In this paper, we explored the role that an authoritative institution can have on influencing how people perceive the importance of safeguarding environmental goods. We assessed how the recent UNESCO’s designation of the dry-stone walls in Mt. Etna (Sicily-Italy) as a World Heritage Site can affect Sicilian consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) to preserve them. By referring to the concept of “appeal to authority”, we examined whether providing information about this recent UNESCO decision could influence public’s WTP to preserve the dry-stone walls of Mt Etna. Through a contingent valuation survey experiment, we found that respondents value the preservation of the dry-stone walls but only when respondents are informed about UNESCO’s decision that the WTP was sufficient enough to compensate farmers for the loss of income derived from maintaining the dry-stone walls. Our findings highlight the importance of information sent by an authoritative institution on reducing the effects of uncertainty in the valuation of environmental goods due to the unfamiliarity of such goods among people. Our results have important implications for policy makers as the role of institutions like UNESCO in increasing people’s WTP could increase awareness about the benefits of environmental goods’ preservation. A limitation of our study is that it is based on stated preferences. Future studies should also examine the effect of information on consumers’ WTP for preserving environmental goods with other methodological approach and in other geographical contexts.

Keywords: Willingness-to-pay; Agri-Environmental Good; Dry-stone-walls; Information; Appealto-Authority (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105972

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