Searching for the economic value of nature; a return on investment analysis of promotion and preservation of hedges in Neckertal, Switzerland.
Hem, P.H.J. van der
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Economic language has been a predominant influence in the area of valuation of nature in public policies all around the globe (McMullen, 2016). Incorporating other values that are not easily translated in economic language can however reduce externalities and improve sustainable trade-off analysis. The recognition and importance of non-economic values highlights the flaws within currently used economic valuation tools since such methods do not capture the expanse and nuances and intricacies of different types of values (Kumar & Kumar, 2008). This thesis combines a semantic approach of the concept of value from Jackendoff (2006) and contingent valuation methodology to assess the return on investment of a landscape quality project in Neckertal, Switzerland, that concerns promoting and preserving hedges. I advocate including a lexicographic preference option of valuing in contingent valuation for those who reject economic logic. Findings indicated that 10% of the respondents held lexicographic preferences. On average respondents were willing to pay + 169, whereas the investment costs per capita were + 4 Swiss Francs. This study found that different actor groups put different weighing of particular value sources. The most important value sources were affective value, quality value, followed by resource value. This study offers new insights in acknowledging and operationalizing value pluralism in monetary terms and advocates the inclusion of lexicographic preferences. By finding out how value is perceived by relevant actors and how this differs between different actor groups, economic analysis might regain some of its former importance as a means to understand and evaluate policies.