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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social costing for preservation decisions : the nature, significance and elicitation of wilderness values Roessler, Craig


This thesis is designed to serve the following purposes: (1) to increase awareness of values and wilderness values; (2) to highlight the significance of meaningfully including stakeholder values in allocation decision processes; and (3) to propose the use of one non-market valuation method which shows promise for gaining improved insight into complex land use decisions. Value concepts based on preferences offer a framework within which values can be understood and assessed. Wilderness values are thus expressed here in preference-related terms, and include human demand and spiritual values and ecological values. A taxonomy built upon these fundamental wilderness values is advanced in order to heighten understanding of them and underscore their importance in decisional and evaluative settings. Allocation decisions involving conflicting objectives, limited resources and shifting values have focussed rising attention on the need to formulate widely supported tradeoffs incorporating all values. The problem facing the planner is to provide a reasonable assessment of wilderness values, given that many of them are non-market based, complex and uncertain. Two broad classes of non-market elicitation techniques have been promoted in the literature: (1) those based on the indirect revealed preferences of consumers in markets with related commodities; and (2) those based on the direct expressed preferences of individuals. Indirect approaches outlined and assessed here are the travel cost and hedonic price methods. Their foremost strength is that they measure behavior directly. However, their utility for eliciting wilderness values is limited by their incapacity to evaluate non-use values. Direct approaches outlined and assessed here are the contingent valuation method (CVM) and multi attribute utility technology (MAUT). Expressed preference techniques share the advantage of retaining flexibility to elicit values under a range of hypothetical scenarios. However, a number of significant errors and biases have been linked to the CVM. Its overriding weakness is that it typically requires holistic dollar measures for complex, incommensurable, uncertain and multidimensional values. MAUT represents a 'decomposition’ approach which seems to be more in harmony with the constructive nature of human values and the coping strategies of respondents dealing with complexity. Although empirical evidence is sparse, there appears to be considerable scope for MAUT's use in allocation decision contexts. Two preservation decisions workshops were conducted to explore the feasibility of using MAUT and CVM to inform allocation decisions. Feedback from the workshops revealed that respondents, on average, found MAUT much more acceptable than CVM for eliciting their preferences. Nevertheless, they had reservations about attaching dollar figures to wilderness values with either approach, found MAUT at times confusing and generally felt that more context-building realism was needed. MAUT offers an improved means of clarifying complex decisions, but before MAUT is formally used in allocation processes there will need to be revisions in the prototype presented and larger scale trials involving stakeholders to test for its wider applicability.

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