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Economic values of threatened mammals in Britain: A case study of the otter Lutra lutra and the water vole Arvicola terrestris

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Publication details

JournalBiological Conservation
DatePublished - Dec 1997
Issue number3
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)345-354
Original languageEnglish


We investigated the relative economic values of the otter Lutra lutra and the water vole Arvicola terrestris, two species that occupy similar habitats and face common threats of habitat change, habitat fragmentation and pollution. Willingness to pay for conservation was estimated using the contingent valuation method. Data were collected by a telephone survey using a referendum based on willingness to pay a specified amount as a single addition to tax. The most influential variables in determining respondents' willingness to pay were their age, the specified tax amount, whether they were aware of the threats to that specific species, whether they were a member of a conservation organisation and whether they walked frequently in the countryside. Mean willingness to pay values obtained were pound 11.91 for the otter, pound 7.44 for the water vole, and pound 10.92 for both species together. Aggregated over the survey population of North Yorkshire, these results equate to pound 6.4 million, pound 4.0 million and pound 5.8 million, respectively. These figures are well in excess of the calculated present values for the UK action plans for the otter and the water vole (pound 0.8 million and pound 1.0 million, respectively). The results demonstrate strong public support for mammal conservation, in particular for high profile 'flagship' species, and suggest that public profile may be as important as rarity or the degree of threat in determining a species' relative economic value. (C) 1997 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.

    Research areas

  • economic value, willingness to pay, contingent valuation, otter, water vole, CONTINGENT VALUATION, INFORMATION, BENEFITS, GOODS

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