In this study, Rex Caffey, Richard Kazmierczak, Walter Keithly and Irving Mendelssohn, all of Louisiana State University, and Daniel Petrolia and Matthew Interis, of Mississippi State University, will determine the value of ecosystem goods and services provided by estuaries in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This study will build on the foundation of three research themes: valuation of coastal habitat characteristics in private land markets, valuation of coastal lands as revealed in public and private restoration investments, and valuation of coastal public goods in contingent markets. The overall goal of this project is to estimate ecosystem service values and to identify the dimensions on which these values hinge, including geographic location, habitat type, population from which values are obtained and valuation method.
Rigorous value estimates for ecosystem services in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) are needed for project and policy development. Previous studies of GOM and non-GOM habitats have generated value estimates that vary greatly, in part due to the wide range of stated preference (SP) and revealed preference (RP) methods employed. This variability, the narrow focus of most research, and the unique temporal and spatial context of ecosystem services severely limits the use of value transfer approaches for GOM habitat valuation. The proposed study will address these problems by estimating ecosystem service values for specific habitat types at National Estuary Program (NEP) sites in the northern GOM. Values will be estimated from primary (survey) and secondary (private market transaction records) data using integrated SP (contingent valuation, choice experiments) and RP (hedonic pricing) methods in order to cover the full range of potential use and non-use values.
Traditional and joint RP-SP econometric estimation procedures will be employed, thus providing a higher degree of confidence in value estimates compared to those generated by most previous studies. Results will be disseminated though academic and outreach publications, a series of regional workshops and presentations, and will culminate in a national forum on ecosystem service valuation to be held in New Orleans, LA in May 2013. The workshops and forum will allow for topic-specific engagement and information exchange with biophysical scientists, NEP representatives, and coastal restoration program managers. Project findings will form the basis of a technical report and proceedings on the status and challenges of integrating ecosystem valuation in coastal restoration and management programs. Overall, this project will examine the limits of value transfer methods in the GOM, develop an integrated approach to ecosystem service valuation in the GOM, and provide policy makers with a more structured approach for prioritizing restoration and management projects in GOM ecosystems.
- To estimate the value of specific ecosystem goods and services provided by estuaries of national significance in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
- To determine how these values vary by geographic location
- To co-validate the accuracy of market and non-market methods for estimating ecosystem goods and service values
- To disseminate results and engage to coastal managers through a series of regional workshops and a national forum
Using surveys and secondary data, parallel estimation of ecosystem values will be developed for specific sub-habitats at National Estuary Program (NEP) sites in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Value estimates will be developed using revealed preference (RP) methods (hedonic pricing, travel cost methods) and stated preference (SP) methods (contingent valuation, contingent behavior, choice experiments). Joint RP-SP estimation procedures will be developed to statistically compare, contrast, and refine preference parameters. Results will be disseminated though a series of regional workshops and presentations in 2012 and will culminate in a national forum on ecosystem service valuation to be held in New Orleans, LA, in May 2013. The workshops and forum will allow for topic-specific engagement and information exchange with biophysical scientists, NEP representatives, and coastal restoration program managers. Project findings will form the basis of a technical report and proceedings on the status and challenges of integrating ecosystem valuation in coastal restoration and management programs.
Current values for ecosystem goods and services are sorely needed for restoration programs in the Northern Gulf of Mexico where resource managers are often limited to a benefit-transfer decision construct that fails to account for the unique temporal and spatial context under which previous values were estimated. Moreover, research and extension efforts are needed to document and reconcile the large variability in ecosystem service values that emerge from a wide range of SP and RP estimation methods. Results generated by this project will help determine the feasibility and limits of value transfer methods, lead to a better understanding of the mechanics of ecosystem valuation, and provide policy makers with a more structured approach for prioritizing restoration and management projects in Gulf of Mexico ecosystems.