Estimating coastal and marine habitat values by combining multi-criteria methods with choice experiments
The coastal and marine environment provides a wide range of ecosystem services, many of which may be impacted through coastal management. Incorporating these values into cost-benefit analysis to support decision making is hampered by the lack of existing appropriate measures. While studies can be undertaken by these agencies to collect the appropriate values, the number of different habitats that may need to be considered is greater than what could reasonably be included in traditional economic approaches. In this paper, we propose combining of a multi-criteria method, namely the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), with choice experiments to develop estimates for a wide range of coastal and marine habitat values that can be used by local planners and coastal managers. We apply the approach to the coastal regions in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Coastal residents were initially asked to express their preferences for protecting different coastal and marine habitats using AHP, from which a relative index of utility was derived. A choice experiment was also implemented, involving a hypothetical new coastal reserve in their area protecting different combinations of habitats and funded through an increase in their local council rates. We found that nearly 90 per cent of NSW coastal residents were willing to pay to support coastal protection. Relative values derived from the AHP were used to extrapolate the choice experiment results to provide estimates of non-market values for a wide range of coastal and marine habitats.