Measuring and Explaining the Willingness to Pay for Forest Conservation: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Brazil
Environmental Research Letters, 11. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/11/114001
Posted: 28 Nov 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017
Date Written: 2016
Recent research suggests that there is substantial public support (including willingness to pay) for forest conservation. Based on a nationwide survey experiment in Brazil (N = 2500) the largest and richest of the world's tropical developing countries, we shed new light on this issue. To what extent does the public in fact support forest conservation and what factors are influencing support levels? Unlike previous studies, our results show that the willingness to pay for tropical forest conservation in Brazil is rather low. Moreover, framing forest conservation in terms of biodiversity protection, which tends to create more local benefits, does not induce more support than framing conservation in terms of mitigating global climate change. The results also show that low levels of trust in public institutions have a strong negative impact on the public's willingness to pay for forest conservation, individually and/or via government spending. What could other (richer) countries do, in this context, to encourage forest conservation in Brazil and other tropical developing countries? One key issue is whether prospects of foreign funding for forest conservation are likely to crowd out or, conversely, enhance the motivation for domestic level conservation efforts. We find that prospects of foreign funding have no significant effect on willingness to pay for forest conservation. These findings have at least three policy implications, namely, that the Brazilian public's willingness to pay for forest conservation is very limited, that large-scale international funding is probably needed, and that such funding is unlikely to encourage more domestic effort, but is also unlikely to crowd out domestic efforts. Restoring public trust in the Brazilian government is key to increasing public support for forest conservation in Brazil.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation