Addressing awareness gaps in environmental valuation: choice experiments with citizens in the Inner Forth, Scotland
Managed realignment of shorelines to manage floods and restore wetland can be difficult to implement without the support and involvement of local communities. Ecosystem service valuation tools, such as choice experiments, can be used to engage citizens in planning these sustainable transitions, yet citizens need to know their local shoreline and the pressures it is facing. Otherwise, people’s ability to participate in local governance and to value potential changes is limited. The aim of this study is to identify and address awareness gaps that would hinder informed participation in a choice experiment: we address awareness gaps through deliberative interventions in a workshop setting, and by measuring the impact of deliberation through a comparison of choice experiment results performed before and after each stage of deliberation with citizens living on the shores of the Inner Forth estuary in Scotland. We estimate separate choice models for each of the choice experiments and find that deliberation increases both the resistance to ‘status quo’ and support for landscape-scale managed realignment of the shoreline. The deliberative interventions helped to identify clearer shoreline priorities and reduce contradictory patterns in shoreline preference. After gaining experience and deliberation, we find participants to become more selective: willingness to pay decreases substantially and model performance improves (slightly). Preferences diverge after learning about shoreline issues, whereas discussion converges preferences for the two most important shoreline attributes. These findings suggest that deliberative valuation not only shapes citizens’ attitudes towards shoreline management but also improves the quality of citizen engagement in the delivery of sustainable transitions.
KeywordsEcosystem services valuation Citizen participation Managed realignment Willingness to pay Deliberative valuation
We thank Meriwether Wilson and Torsten Krause on comments on the early drafts of this paper. Special thank you to Pontus Ambros for his support with the pilot studies; workshop facilitators Aster De Vries Lentsch, Isobel Jones, Jakob Assmann, Ben Garlick, and Rachael Scrimgeour; the transcribers Kathleen Allen and Isabel Hoffman; to Aster, Ben Donlan, Elsa Snellman, Nathan Bower-Bir, and Lili Schoewer for helping with the interviews; Archie Crofton for the design of the choice experiment visuals; and to Craig Bullock and Martin Watson for their help and advice on the workshop design.
This work was funded by the European Commission FP7 under Grant Agreement FP7-ENV-2012-308393-2 (OPERAs).
Compliance with ethical standards
We obtained informed consent from all participants, and adequately handled their confidentiality, in line with the School of Geosciences (University of Edinburgh) Research Ethics Procedure. The research plan was reviewed and approved by the School of Geosciences Ethics Committee prior to the fieldwork, and permission was obtained for photography and filming.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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