Institute for environmental Sciences, University of Zurich, Zurich

Valuation of landscape changes: an experimental approach

Managed land, i.e. mainly agricultural land and forest, provides several services for the general public, such as making the landscape aesthetic and providing food. In contrast to private goods, the demand for public goods cannot be monitored in the markets. Thus, surveys are one of the few ways of learning about the public’s preferences for particular public services. In this study we used a survey-based economic valuation method called “choice experiment” to estimate the population’s willingness-to-pay for landscape changes in the Canton of Zurich. The results indicate a positive willingness-to-pay for more hedgerows, trees, low-intensity managed land and nature reserves at the expense of high-intensity grassland. We found a negative willingness-to-pay for an increase in high-intensity grassland and less arable land. A noticeable expansion of forest would be accepted by people in urban and suburban areas, but not by people in rural areas. Evaluation of welfare effects of such land use changes requires the additional consideration of the costs of the changes to the general public under present and alternative regulatory frameworks.

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