To restore or not? A valuation of social and ecological functions of the Marais des Baux wetland in Southern France
The Marais des Baux wetland in southern France has for centuries been subject to drainage, almost causing its entire disappearance. With an increasing awareness of wetland ecosystem services, the extensive drainage is being questioned today. To guide policy-makers and landowners in their decision-making, we use a Choice Experiment to elicit the preferences of the general public for potential land use and activity changes in the Marais des Baux. These changes concern wetland restoration, the extent of tree hedges, recreational opportunities, mosquito control and biodiversity. Using a random parameter logit model, we take account of unobserved and observed preference heterogeneity, revealing that demand for a high level of biodiversity is conditional on respondents expressing a high level of environmental concern, and that parenthood raises the WTP for any future management alternative different from the current situation. Further, we find that mosquito control or attachment to the area is essential for support of large-scale wetland restoration. From the perspective of maximising the compensating surplus, the recommendation is to restore the wetland to one third of its original size in conjunction with biological control of mosquitoes, more tree hedgerows and recreational facilities, while increasing efforts to induce higher levels of biodiversity.
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