Valuing Complex Natural Resource Systems

Valuing Complex Natural Resource Systems

The Case of the Lagoon of Venice

The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development

Edited by Anna Alberini, Paolo Rosato and Margherita Turvani

In complex natural resource systems, modifications or disruptions tend to affect many and diverse components of the ecological system, settlements and groups of people. This book uses the Lagoon of Venice – a unique natural resource, wildlife habitat, centre of cultural heritage and recreational site – as an example of one such system that has been heavily affected by human activities, including the harvesting of natural resources and industrial production. The contributors explore the Lagoon’s potential for regeneration, examining public policies currently under consideration. The aim of these policies is to restore island coastlines and marshes, fish stocks, habitat and environmental quality, defend morphology and landscape through the strict control of fishing practices, and to protect the islands from high tides.

Chapter 4: Using Contingent Valuation to Value the Island of S. Erasmo in the Lagoon of Venice

Anna Alberini, Paolo Rosato, Alberto Longo and Valentina Zanatta

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, valuation, environment, environmental economics, valuation

Extract

Anna Alberini, Paolo Rosato, Alberto Longo and Valentina Zanatta 4.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter reports on a contingent valuation study eliciting willingness to pay (WTP) for a public programme to improve environmental quality, both directly and indirectly, via construction of infrastructure on and around the island of S. Erasmo in the Lagoon of Venice. S. Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the Lagoon of Venice, is affected by severe coastal erosion problems, degraded environmental quality, and a lack of infrastructure and services. We wish to elicit willingness to pay for the population of (broadly defined) beneficiaries of the programme, so our survey was administered over the telephone to a sample of residents of the Veneto Region. Information about willingness to pay for the programme was elicited using dichotomous-choice questions in a referendum format. Our survey respondents were told about a hypothetical public programme that would, if passed by a majority vote, restore beaches, implement erosion control, and improve infrastructure on the island. They were subsequently asked whether they would vote for or against the proposition on a ballot, if establishing the programme would imply a cost of €X to their household. Statistical modelling of the responses to this and to follow-up questions allows us to compute mean and median WTP for the programme, and hence its benefits. Mean WTP for the S. Erasmo public works is €67 per household. Median WTP provides a robust lower bound equal to €20. We estimate the total benefits for the Veneto Region to range...

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