Qualitative valuation of environmental criteria through a group consensus based on stochastic dominance
This paper introduces a qualitative valuation method to elicit stakeholders' intensities of preferences for a complex environmental issue and multiple social groups. Environmental valuation studies have shown that in any complex environment with a diversity of environmental services, stakeholders have difficulties using a monetary valuation to make trade-offs between different environmental services. Stated preference methods such as the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) have been criticised for their individualistic format and assumptions of commensurability between environmental criteria. To alleviate both of these criticisms, we propose a qualitative valuation method. The method contains a discursive step to allow stakeholders to discuss and construct a list of environmental criteria and alternative plans. The list of criteria and plans is subsequently used by a group of experts to formulate an Impact Matrix (IM), which is to be used in the succeeding individualistic steps of the methodology. The first individualistic step consists of asking the stakeholders to rank Alternative Impacts (AIs) in the IM for each single criterion. The stakeholders are then asked to express intensities of their preferences through pairwise comparisons between the AIs of the constructed rank order on each single criterion. These intensities are expressed on a qualitative scale. Subsequently, to provide social intensities of preferences, a social preference (social rank order) is first determined for each single criterion. We propose to use the median value among the intensities of preferences as the social intensity of preference by assuming interpersonal comparability and taking into account stochastic monotonocity. This is a pre-processing step, which allows us to reach social intensities of preferences in the Lar rangeland (Iran), where several social groups have conflicting interests on rangeland services, leading to conflicting preferences on environmental criteria.
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