The objective of this project was to use both the travel cost method and the contingent valuation method to estimate Southern New England residents’ willingness to pay (WTP) a premium for local forest products, clean drinking water from forested watersheds, and access to recreation on private forestland. A survey was administered by three master’s students to 90 landowners and 692 forest users, and an additional 21 interviews were conducted of key informants, including influential local landowners, as well as forest industry and conservation professionals. The results indicate that residents attribute monetary value to nonmarket forest goods and services.
The present value WTP for drinking water from protected watersheds is $17.87 per month. Average WTP for recreational access on private forestland is $24.84 per year. Average premium for local forest products is 11.5%, with amounts varying across furniture, lumber, honey, maple syrup and Christmas trees. Estimates indicate that there is potential for decision makers to create new markets or policies that create economic incentives for private forest owners by drawing upon previously untapped sources of publicly derived funding.
Based on these findings, the investigators have hosted the following landowner workshops:
- Southern New England land-use history and forest ecology (9/24/2012)
- Forest stand dynamics (6/9/2012)
- Forest ecosystem services and their markets (7/14/2012)
- Wildlife habitat management for the small private landowner (9/15/2012)
- Band saw mill and horse logging workshop (2/18/2013)
- Estate planning and conservation workshop (5/08/2013)
Use and Applications
The results of this research have been useful to students who are a part of ongoing land management and research projects in the Quiet Corner Initiative at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Projects conducted through the courses Management Plans for Protected Areas, Strategies for Land Conservation, and through the Berkley Scholars program, are building upon this research.
In addition, regional policymakers, water authorities, and recreation managers can utilize the results of this research to inform new policies and markets for ecosystem services. For example, the investigators intend to use the information from this research to engage with both users and providers of ecosystems services in a trial “Payments for Ecosystem Services” scheme.
In June 2012, the investigators were awarded a U.S. Forest Service State and Private Forestry Competitive grant that will provide research support for an additional three years. The total amount provided, $230,283, was matched by School Forest activities and teaching and the CBEY seed grant for ecosystem services research.
The investigators have also applied for a grant of $50,000 through the Connecticut Long Island Sound Water Program for the development of a stream/riparian health assessment protocol for private lands in northeast CT.
Photo from Tobias von der Haar/flickr