Valuation of the environmental impact of wetland flood protection and drainage schemes
Large areas of the remaining wetlands in the United Kingdom are faced with virtual extinction because of the pressures engendered by high productivity farming practices, reinforced by subsidised land drainage and flood protection schemes as well as by price supports for agricultural produce in the European Economic Community. Unique environmental resources are being put at risk by changing farming methods and in particular by arable conversion schemes. A case study, the Yare Barrier Proposal in Norfolk, is used to analyse and evaluate the environmental impacts of drainage and flood protection schemes on the surrounding wetland ecosystems. An opportunity cost model is used to estimate the costs and benefits involved in this policy decision on preservation versus development. We conclude that the case for the agricultural development of the wetlands made on the grounds of economic efficiency is not a strong one.
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