Chapter 12: Value after the volcano: economic valuation of Montserrat’s Centre Hills
The Centre Hills comprise the largest intact and accessible forest area remaining on Montserrat in Trinidad and Tobago and provide a variety of ecosystem services for the residents of Montserrat including water supply, hazard protection, recreation, aesthetic quality, species conservation, tourism, forest products and carbon sequestration. As a result of the volcanic activity on Montserrat that started in July 1995, the population and economic activities have been relocated from the south to the north of the island. The Centre Hills forest is under increasing pressure from alternative land uses as Montserrat’s infrastructure is being rebuilt in the north. In addition to direct human pressures on the Centre Hills in the form of conversion to other land uses, the forest is also threatened by the increasing populations of invasive species, particularly rats and pigs. Given the recognised importance of the Centre Hills in providing ecosystem services to Montserrat and the presence of threats that may reduce the service provision, there is a need for quantitative information to guide decision-making regarding management and conservation of the area. For ecosystem services, however, there are often no prices that reflect their value, as they are not traded on markets. Economic valuation of ecosystem services can reveal to decision-makers the diverse benefits and costs associated with the protection of the environment i.e. the trade-offs that have to be made in decision-making (Pagiola et al., 2004).
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