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Mapping coastal and marine ecosystem services to the Total Economic Value framework

Spanou, E ORCID: 0000-0001-9286-2799 2021 , 'Mapping coastal and marine ecosystem services to the Total Economic Value framework', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The main aims of the work presented in this dissertation are 1) the elicitation of locallyheld values for the marine and coastal ecosystem services in south-eastern Tasmania and 2) the development of the methods used to address certain technical issues present in the methods. This dissertation employs a diverse range of methods to elicit values held for marine and coastal ecosystem services in the Derwent estuary and Storm Bay in Tasmania, Australia. The range of methods used also allows the demonstration of preference heterogeneity (and the areas in which there is overlap) that can occur when different methods are used. In the context of environmental decision-making, it is advantageous to obtain information regarding the values held, the effect of elicitation methods on these values, and value heterogeneity, to ensure that common resources such as ecosystem services are managed by taking into consideration a wider, richer range of preferences. Three methods were used to uncover the benefits provided by the Derwent estuary to the inhabitants of south-eastern Tasmania. These methods investigated both individual/selfregarding and community/shared values, and they include an online participatory mapping exercise (participatory geographic information systems - PGIS), an online discrete choice experiment survey, and a deliberative monetary valuation workshop exercise utilising a discrete choice experiment survey as a valuation tool.
The main information collected through the participatory mapping experiment was the ranking by local inhabitants of a set of marine and coastal ecosystem services as well as their perceptions of the location, presence, and quality of these services. The ranking of ecosystem services in this experiment provided information regarding the relative value of each service, both in relation to the other services and the built infrastructure present at the marine and coastal sites. The marine and coastal recreational activities engaged in by participants and theirperceptions of conflicts, overall environmental quality, and other issues were investigated. The methodological advance made in this application of PGIS was that participants were asked to recall and map the activities they carried out at marine and coastal sites and during the mapping process questioned about their perception of the presence and quality of ecosystem services at the sites they used for recreation. This local knowledge in conjunction with expert input from CSIRO and IMAS0F 1 scientists formed the basis of the design and framing of a choice experiment, ensuring that the framing and content were relevant to the area. The locally relevant choice experiment was used in both the online choice experiment survey and deliberative monetary valuation workshop to allow for comparisons to be made between the choice experiment treatments. The main output of the choice experiment survey were monetary values for the marine and coastal ecosystem services identified as important in the participatory mapping study. The marine and coastal ecosystem services valued in the choice experiment were: ‘Water quality’, ‘Seafloor health’, ‘Coastal and marine litter’, and ‘Safety of marine food (for consumption)’.
The online treatment of the discrete choice experiment was used to explore traditional monetary values held for the marine and coastal environment using a method that is wellestablished in the literature. The results showed a significant positive willingness to pay for an improvement of the ecosystem services identified as most important by participants in the mapping survey. The service whose levels of improvement were most highly valued was ‘Seafloor health’, followed by ‘Coastal and marine litter’. The levels of improvement of ‘Water quality’ and ‘Safety of marine food’ were valued significantly lower. A series of deliberative monetary valuation workshops investigated both selfregarding/ individual and shared/social values and preferences for ecosystem services in the estuary. The deliberative workshops utilised a method that was intended to address certain shortcomings or limitations of traditional choice experiments such as an imperfect understanding of the complex choice experiment attributes and the focus on self-regarding/individual values (shared/social values are not captured). These workshops began with participants completing the choice experiment individually as in the online treatment of the choice experiment. Following this, participants engaged in a deliberative phase involving the group completing the choice experiment, all participants discussing the choices being made and arriving at a consensus. In order to conduct the ‘group choice experiment’, participants individually ascribed weightings to each attribute (ecosystem services) of the good valued prior to deliberation. These weightings were aggregated and used to develop a heuristic to make choices across choice tasks. The workshop groups discussed choices from the point of view of the community and were asked to select options which would benefit most people. When the group was dissatisfied with the choice outcome, the group weightings were altered until the choice made best represented the needs, preferences, and values of the community, future generations, and non-human users of the environment. The willingness to pay (WTP) estimates from the individual completion of the choice experiment (before and after the group discussion) were compared to the deliberative WTP estimates. A significant difference was found showing that the two elicitation methods drew upon different value sets (self-regarding values for the individual completion and shared/social values for the deliberative treatment, as described by Kenter et al. (2015)). The workshop groups placed emphasis on keeping the cost of improvements down. They stated that although they were individually happy to pay more than the choices selected by the group, they felt uncomfortable with the experiment leading to a policyrecommendation that may require sections of the community to pay more than they could afford. Through deliberation, the ecosystem service ‘Seafloor health’ weighting increased, while the weight on other ecosystem services decreased. Qualitative investigation during the group discussions revealed that this was due to a better understanding of and more familiarity with the attribute, as well as increased comprehension of the independence of the attributes in the choice experiment (e.g. that reducing levels of coastal and marine litter would not result in an improvement for all other attributes). The choice experiment was completed individually pre- and post-deliberation and the choices actually made were compared to the choices inferred from participants’ individual weightings. The deliberative phase led to post-deliberation individual choices that were more accurate based on the preferences inferred from participants’ individual weightings. Additionally, 29% of participants who changed their responses from the business-asusual alternative selected an alternative aligned with the values expressed through their individual weightings.
These results show that individual (online and pre- and post-deliberative) and deliberative choice experiments result in a different set of values being accessed by the respondent. Depending on the ecosystem services being managed, the valuation method should be carefully selected to elicit self-regarding or shared/social values. Additionally, the pre- and postdeliberative experiment results show that deliberation may help participants make choices that are more consistent with their internal heuristics. Deliberation can also result in WTP estimates from a smaller sample that are more consistent with those obtained from a much larger sample, resulting in the ability to accomplish the valuation at a lower cost.
The WTP estimates produced by the different treatments were compared. It was found that the pre- and post-deliberation individual WTP estimates were statistically more different tothe deliberative group WTP estimates than to the online individual WTP estimates. This strengthened the conclusion that the pre- and post-deliberation treatments saw participants drawing upon a different set of values and preferences (individual values) in their responses. The postdeliberative WTP estimates were statistically less different to the online WTP estimates than the pre-deliberative WTP estimates. This led to the conclusion that the deliberative process enabled a better representation of individual preferences in the post-deliberative treatment.
The information from the three methods and the comparison of the WTP results from the treatments of the choice experiment are intended to provide local, relevant, and high-quality information to support the environmental decision-making in south-eastern Tasmanian marine and coastal ecosystems, as well as adding to the national set of value estimates. This dissertation provides a novel demonstration of the way multiple techniques across various disciplines can feed into and complement one another. The innovations developed aim to address technical issues with the methods and increase the calibre of information that goes on to support decision-makers in the sustainable management of these rare and treasured natural areas.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Spanou, E
Keywords: Deliberative monetary valuation, Community values, Choice experiment, Participatory GIS
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Copyright 2020 the author

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