ESTIMATING THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF IMPROVING THE ECOLOGICAL CONDITION OF THE SASKATCHEWAN RIVER DELTA ECOSYSTEM
This research aims to quantify how much Canadians are willing to pay to improve the ecological condition of the Saskatchewan River Delta (SRD). The research develops and administers a stated preference survey that focuses on non-use values for changes in important ecological endpoints (lake sturgeon population levels, muskrat abundance, habitat in healthy ecological condition, and waterfowl population levels). A second objective of this research is to understand if values differ across provinces, age range, income levels and other socio-economic characteristics. Results suggest that Canadians are willing to pay for the improvement of the delta ecological condition. Estimated marginal willingness to pay values range from $1.55 - $2.53 for a 1% improvement in the level of the ecological attributes. Overall habitat in healthy ecological condition is the most preferred SRD ecological attribute. Taken together, the annual economic benefits to Canadian households for various SRD restoration scenarios is estimated to be $104 to $223 for 20 years. From a policy perspective, the study provides credible economic values for the benefits associated to the restoration of SRD and suggests that there can be a level of confidence that valid non-use values for river deltas in Canada do, in fact, exist and can be quantified. The results also indicate that Canadians have diverse values for SRD restoration. Some of this preference heterogeneity can be attributed to people’s income level, age category, education level, employment status, gender, and province of residence. Explained preference heterogeneity with respect to a few of socio-demographic characteristics provides insight into the social demand for the Delta restoration. Decision-makers and public managers can then use this knowledge and information on the sources of heterogeneity to improve SRD restoration.
Non-use values, ecosystem services, discrete choice experiment, willingness to pay, Saskatchewan River Delta
Master of Science (M.Sc.)
Agricultural and Resource Economics