Keywords: conjoint analysis, riparian ecosystems, economic value, ecosystem attributes, ecosystem management, ecosystem protection, environmental protection
Economic value of riparian ecosystems: an attribute-based conjoint analysis
Ecosystems play a vital role in achieving development goals and provide services of high value. Riparian ecosystems provide multiple ecosystem services that are vital to biotic, abiotic, and economic health of a region. An assessment of their economic value is important for conservation policy. This study uses a multi-attribute method to quantify relative values of riparian attributes. The conjoint analysis incorporates three riparian ecosystem management scenarios and was implemented through an online survey. A logistic regression is used to estimate marginal willingness to pay for changes in attribute levels. Economic variables were dominant in influencing riparian values compared to biophysical attributes. Recreation, tax incentives, jobs, and respondent income are statistically significant in influencing preferences to protect riparian ecosystems but riparian zone width, water clarity and species richness were not. The values of the recreation attribute, job creation from riparian protection were found significant. A tax rebate for households would be needed to gain support for a greater riparian ecosystem protection.