Valuing forest recreation on the national level in a transition economy: The case of Poland
Recreation benefits constitute a substantial part of the total economic value of forests, and are important for the choice of multi-functional forest policies. The application of methods valuing such benefits is in its infancy in transition economies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), so value estimates for policy use are sometimes transferred from Western Europe proportionally scaled down by GDP. However, little is known about how recreation values vary with income, and one risks underestimating benefits in CEE. This paper reports the findings of the first comprehensive, national-level study in any CEE country estimating annual and per trip forest recreation values in Poland using the Travel Cost (TC) and Contingent Valuation (CV) methods. Two in-person interview surveys of forest recreation behaviour were carried out. The first was administered on-site in ten representative forest areas, and the other in the homes of a national sample of adult Poles. Results show that forest recreation is highly valued in Poland, at Euros 0.64-6.93 per trip per person, depending on the valuation method. Both trip frequency and per trip values are higher than the average in Western Europe, despite a lower income level. Thus, a simple GDP-adjusted transfer from Western Europe would substantially undervalue forest recreation in Poland. Further, a comparison of TC consumer surplus estimates and GDP/capita in Europe shows no clear relationship, indicating that a range of cultural, institutional and other factors may be important.
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