Habitat preservation and restoration: Do homebuyers have preferences for quality habitat?
This research examines homebuyers' preferences for nearby riparian habitat, an important issue because quality riparian habitat competes for water resources with other activities in semi-arid regions and because federal and local governments allocate significant resources to riparian habitat preservation and restoration plans. Riparian vegetation surveys comprising comprehensive measures of the ecological characteristics of riparian habitat were completed in the metropolitan Tucson study area and the data incorporated into a hedonic analysis of single family residential house prices. The results indicate that high quality riparian habitat adds value to nearby homes and that instead of indiscriminately valuing "green" open space, nearby homebuyers distinguish between biologically significant riparian vegetation characteristics. This research also suggests that it is worthwhile to account for the heterogeneity of natural amenities in hedonic analysis. Furthermore the results suggest that riparian preservation and restoration programs are more likely to receive public support if they incorporate features that are preferred by nearby homeowners. Our study's results show that household preferences for existing riparian habitat match features of the ecologically-functional riparian habitat envisaged in a recently funded joint federal-city urban riparian restoration project in Tucson, Arizona.
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