The Empirics of Wetland Valuation: A Comprehensive Summary and a Meta-Analysis of the Literature
Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems, providing a number of goods and services that are of value to people. The open-access nature and the public-good characteristics of wetlands often result in these regions being undervalued in decisions relating to their use and conservation. There is now a substantial literature on wetland valuation, including two meta-analyses that examine subsets of the available wetland valuation literature. We collected over 190 wetland valuation studies, providing 215 value observations, in order to present a more comprehensive meta-analysis of the valuation literature that includes tropical wetlands (e.g., mangroves), estimates from diverse valuation methodologies, and a broader range of wetland services (e.g., biodiversity value). We also aim for a more comprehensive geographical coverage. We find that socio-economic variables, such as income and population density, that are often omitted from such analyses are important in explaining wetland value. We also assess the prospects for using this analysis for out-of-sample value transfer, and find average transfer errors of 74%, with just under one-fifth of the transfers showing errors of 10% or less.