Journal of Forest Economics > Vol 21 > Issue 1

Valuing type and scope of ecosystem conservation: A meta-analysis

Evan Hjerpe, Conservation Economics Institute, United States, , Anwar Hussain, Auburn University Forest Policy Center and Conservation Economics Institute, United States, Spencer Phillips, Key-Log Economics, United States
Suggested Citation
Evan Hjerpe, Anwar Hussain and Spencer Phillips (2015), "Valuing type and scope of ecosystem conservation: A meta-analysis", Journal of Forest Economics: Vol. 21: No. 1, pp 32-50.

Publication Date: 0/1/2015
© 0 2015 Evan Hjerpe, Anwar Hussain, Spencer Phillips
JEL Codes:Q57Q51Q24
Conservation economicsWillingness to payMeta-analysisPreservationEcological restorationEcosystem services


Open Access

This is published under the terms of CC-BY.

In this article:
Literature review and hypotheses 
Meta-regression methods 
Data selection 
Model specification 
Willingness to pay primary data 
Estimation procedures 
Meta-regression results 
Within-sample predictions 


Ecosystem conservation programs are increasingly incorporating both preservation and restoration strategies for ensuring the flow of ecosystem services from public lands. While preservation and restoration have similar end ecological objectives, differences in these conservation types may create systematic variation in willingness to pay (WTP) for their benefits. There has also been conflicting evidence of whether or not the amount, or scope, of conservation influences the demand for environmental improvements in manners consistent with neoclassical economics (greater value for more conservation). To investigate the sensitivity of conservation values to type and scope, we conducted a meta-analysis of existing evidence. We synthesized 127 data points from 22 primary studies that provided WTP estimates for preservation, forest restoration, and freshwater restoration conducted primarily on public lands. Estimates were derived from choice experiments, contingent rankings, and dichotomous choice contingent valuation studies for conservation programs in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. from 1987 to 2013. We found strong evidence for systematic variation of WTP depending on conservation type and scope. Values for preservation were greater than both forest and freshwater restoration; and freshwater restoration was valued greater than forest restoration. Meta-estimates were found to be sensitive to scope effects, as value increased with conservation intensity but at diminishing marginal rates. We provide quantitative policy analysis in the form of within-sample predictions of mean WTP for each conservation type and scope and conclude with recommendations.