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Analyzing the Social Factors That Influence Willingness to Pay for Invasive Alien Species Management Under Two Different Strategies: Eradication and Prevention


Biological invasions occur worldwide, and have been the object of ecological and socio-economic research for decades. However, the manner in which different stakeholder groups identify the problems associated with invasive species and confront invasive species management under different policies remains poorly understood. In this study, we conducted an econometric analysis of the social factors influencing willingness to pay for invasive alien species management under two different regimes: eradication and prevention in the Doñana Natural Protected Area (SW Spain). Controlling for the participation of local residents, tourists and conservationists, email and face-to-face questionnaires were conducted. Results indicated that respondents were more willing to pay for eradication than prevention; and public support for invasive alien species management was influenced by an individual’s knowledge and perception of invasive alien species, active interest in nature, and socio-demographic attributes. We concluded that invasive alien species management research should confront the challenges to engage stakeholders and accept any tradeoffs necessary to modify different conservation policies to ensure effective management is implemented. Finally, our willingness to pay estimates suggest the Department of Environment of Andalusian Government has suitable social support to meet the budgetary expenditures required for invasive alien species plans and adequate resources to justify an increase in the invasive alien species management budget.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge Doñana National and Natural Park staff, Department of Environment of Andalusian Government staff, and Fundación Doñana for providing facilities to obtain data, especially M.D. Cobo, M.J. Conde, G. Ceballos, A. Villalva, and B. Ceballos. We thank R. Mangas and J.L. Nicolau for their helpful comments on the Heckman model. Sincere thanks are due to three anonymous reviewers for their pertinent suggestions and recommendations, which have enabled us to greatly improve our manuscript. We also thank tourists, local users and researchers who took their time to respond to the questionnaire. Map was made by Ignacio Palomo. This research was partially supported by a grant from the Madrid Regional Government of Education, which is co-founded by the Social European Fund (F.S.E.), the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (Project CGL2006-14121/BOS), and the Biodiversity Foundation of the Spanish Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, through the project Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of Spain.

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Correspondence to Marina García-Llorente.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Supplementary Material: Questionnaire Structure and Content

Section One: Addressing the Public’s Knowledge and Perception of IAS Social-Ecological Impacts and Attitudes Toward IAS Introduction

These questions included:

  • The definition of the term invasive alien species.

  • The willingness to introduce non-native species if the respondent obtained an economic or recreational benefit from this action.

  • The knowledge of any non-native species in Doñana, and the perception of the role of IAS: (1) threatening ecosystems in the Doñana area; (2) having a positive or negative effect on the local economy; (3) affecting disease transmission; and (4) affecting cultural identity.

This first section also comprised questions regarding the respondent’s active interest in nature:

  • If the respondent hold a membership in an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO).

  • The number of natural protected areas (NPAs) that the respondent had visited during the previous year.

We also included socio-demographic inquiries regarding the distance from their place of residence to the interview site, education level, gender, age, household size, and monthly family income.

Finally, the interviewer answered two follow-up questions to summarize the respondent’s attitude and understanding of the interview and its intent.

Section Two: The Economic Valuation Exercise

Under the eradication regime, the question was asked as follows:

‘With the knowledge that you have about the impacts generated by the presence of these species, if you think that the IAS of Doñana are generating ecological and socio-economic impacts, would you be willing to make an annual economic contribution to a fund created by the Environmental authorities to eradicate these species in Doñana?’ Your economic contribution would comprise part of an annual donation to a trust fund that would be managed by the Environmental authorities in order to eradicate these species from Doñana and ensure the biodiversity conservation in the area.

Original question as was asked in Spanish: Con el conocimiento que has adquirido acerca de los impactos generados por la presencia de estas especies y en el caso de que consideres que las especies exóticas invasoras presentes en Doñana estén generando impactos a nivel ecológico y socio-económico, ¿estarías dispuesto a realizar una contribución económica anual a un fondo creado por las instituciones ambientales para erradicar estas especies en Doñana? Tu contribución económica entrará a formar parte de un donativo anual en un fondo fiable que será gestionado por las autoridades ambientales con el objetivo de erradicar estas especies en Doñana y así asegurar la conservación de la biodiversidad en esta zona.

Finally, following an information summary of IAS impacts, and to evaluate public awareness of the importance of prevention as a tool for IAS management, each respondent was asked the following:

‘With the knowledge that you have about the impacts generated by IAS, would you be willing to make an annual economic contribution to a fund created by the Environmental authorities to prevent the introduction of new IAS in Doñana?’ Your economic contribution would comprise part of an annual donation to a trust fund that would be managed by the Environmental authorities in order to develop strategies to promote prevention policies to avoid new introductions and ensure biodiversity conservation in the area.

Original question as was asked in Spanish: Con el conocimiento que has adquirido acerca de los impactos generados por la presencia de estas especies, ¿estarías dispuesto a realizar una contribución económica anual a un fondo creado por las instituciones ambientales para prevenir el establecimiento de nuevas especies exóticas invasoras en Doñana? Tu contribución económica entrará a formar parte de un donativo anual en un fondo fiable que será gestionado por las autoridades ambientales con el objetivo de desarrollar estrategias que fomenten las políticas de prevención y eviten nuevos establecimientos y así asegurar la conservación de la biodiversidad en esta zona.

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García-Llorente, M., Martín-López, B., Nunes, P.A.L.D. et al. Analyzing the Social Factors That Influence Willingness to Pay for Invasive Alien Species Management Under Two Different Strategies: Eradication and Prevention. Environmental Management 48, 418–435 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-011-9646-z

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  • Contingent valuation
  • Doñana
  • Eradication
  • Invasive alien species
  • Prevention
  • Willingness to pay