Valuing a Multistate River: The Case of the River Murray
19 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 2011
The River Murray and the Coorong in Australia have been in a state of decline. With the prospect of extended droughts and shifts in inflows due to climate change, difficult choices loom. The options include halting the decline, triage of some assets along the River or staying with the declining river system. To support decision‐making, a survey was designed to elicit willingness to pay for improvements in environmental quality. Over 3000 Australians responded to this survey. The study focuses on key River Murray environmental quality indicators: the frequency of bird breeding along the River Murray, increasing native fish populations in the River Murray, increasing the area of healthy vegetation along the River Murray, and restoring water bird habitat in the Coorong. State/Territory models were jointly estimated using a panel multinomial logit error‐components model. Willingness to pay estimates for improvements in environmental quality were calculated for the River Murray and the Coorong. Respondents were found to be willing to pay most for the Coorong and to improve waterbird breeding frequency. Respondents from the Australian Capital Territory were found to have significantly higher willingness to pay whereas those in Victoria had a significantly lower willingness to pay than respondents in other states.
Keywords: choice experiment, Coorong, error components, River Murray, wetlands, willingness to pay
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