What’s the value of protecting the endangered freshwater sawfish found in the Kimberley’s tropical waterways? A non-market valuation study involving an extensive survey of West Australians found that the West Australian community were willing to pay between $43 and $47 per year, per household, for a five year period. As an aggregate of West Australian households (using 2009 statistics), this equates to about $38 million a year, or $190 million over the five years. This is much greater than the estimated costs (based on expert elicitation) for protecting single species in the Kimberley and can be used in framing policies for environmental protection.
Non-market valuation should be seen as a ‘friend’ of conservation prioritisation. It fosters better decision making by including the community benefits of conservation action and can often provide a stronger justification for government intervention and investment. Even if the valuation indicates that the values of a particular environmental asset are not high enough to justify a particular investment, it is information that helps us to target our limited conservation resources to the most valuable outcomes.
See Decision Point #60 for story on this NMV research.