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Managing Wetlands

An Ecological Economics Approach

Edited by R. Kerry Turner, Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh and Roy Brouwer

The extensive destruction of wetlands across Europe represents a significant loss of biodiversity along with its related economic, cultural, ethical and scientific benefits. This volume addresses the critical issues surrounding this environmental change process, employing a range of analytical methods drawn from a variety of disciplines which bridge the social and natural science divide.
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Chapter 6: Social and Deliberative Approaches to Support Wetland Management

R. Brouwer, R.K. Turner, S. Georgiou, N. Powe, I.J. Bateman and I.H. Langford


1 R. Brouwer, R.K. Turner, S. Georgiou, N. Powe, I.J. Bateman and I.H. Langford 1 INTRODUCTION Monetary economic valuation of the environment has been both supported and heavily criticized in the social science literature and by policy practitioners. The use of cost–benefit analysis (CBA) in environmental policy making and contingent valuation (CV) as an extension of traditional CBA has stimulated an extensive debate.2 For most critics, the neo-classical economic value theory underlying CBA and CV is overly restrictive. The assumptions underlying the theory are considered too narrow to properly describe the environmental values people hold, the process of preference construction, or the way individual values are aggregated into a social value. Other criticism seems to originate from fears that the economic efficiency (net benefit) criterion is being promoted as a meta decision-making criterion. Some of the critics consider environmental valuation more as a social process relying upon social agreements (for example Sagoff, 1988; Jacobs, 1997) and as such only loosely tied, if at all, to technical valuation methods and techniques. Environmental economists are accused of blind adherence to an outmoded neo-classical economic theory lacking empirical verification and political consensus. For some of the critics, the supposed biases and practical inconsistencies found in CV surveys further undermine the validity and modern relevance of neo-classical economic value theory. Much of the debate about the use of CV in CBA is conditioned by ethical and implicit value judgements held by various protagonists (Turner, 1978). First, there is the question whether the utilitarian...

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