The Value of Tropical Waterways and Wetlands: does an increase in knowledge change community preferences
This working paper utilises the choice modelling technique to investigate how information and understanding influences preferences of the general public for conservation of natural environments, specifically the tropical waterways and wetlands of the Kimberley region in Western Australia. The paper forms part of a larger study investigating preference divergence for environmental systems between experts and non-experts. By priming the public with more information about complex environmental problems, one might expect them to form preferences similar to that of experts. A preliminary analysis of public low and high information samples finds that, when birds and plants are the focus of species conservation with respect to the tropical waterways, increased information does not significantly impact preferences. However, when fish species conservation is considered significant differences are found. In this instance individuals appear to have reacted favourably to the additional information, recognising that rare species require more protection than widespread iconic species by placing higher values on their conservation. Generally speaking, respondents preferred high levels of conservation improvements over all attributes considered, rather than lower incremental improvements. Results should be interpreted with care as further analysis is required, including investigation of the alternative specific constant and inclusion of individual characteristics to explain sample heterogeneity.
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