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Estimating the willingness-to-pay for restoring indigenous vegetation at selected sites in South Africa

By Sharon Erica Tessendorf

Abstract

The Working for Water (WfW) Programme is a public works programme designed to clear South Africa of invasive alien vegetation and to restore lowwater consuming indigenous vegetation in the areas that have been cleared. Funds to clear alien invasives were initially secured on the basis that such a programme would increase water runoff, facilitate biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and provide social benefits through job creation. The economic merits of the Programme, in terms of increased water yields, has been established in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, but questioned in the Eastern and Southern Cape. However, there are economic aspects of the studies carried out in the Eastern and Southern Cape that merit more attention than was given them; one of these being the issue of non-water benefits. Preliminary figures emanating from contingent valuation pilot studies conducted at six WfW projects sites indicated that one of these non-water benefits, namely the biodiversity and ecosystem resilience benefit, could be substantial. As such, the primary objective of the present study was to apply the contingent valuation method (CVM) to value people’s preference for indigenous vegetation. This value was intended to serve as a proxy for increased biodiversity and ecosystem resilience at three WfW sites. Despite the controversy surrounding the CVM, it has been found that it is a credible valuation tool. The CVM’s merits lie in its versatility and in the fact that it is the only method available which is capable of obtaining estimates of both nonuse and use values, thus making it applicable for valuing biodiversity. The primary aim of a CVM study is to determine an estimate of the total willingness-to-pay (WTP). In this study, the total WTP figure was calculated by multiplying the median WTP for the local WfW Programme by the total number of user households. The respective total WTP amounts are shown in Table 1. It was anticipated that respondents would be willing to pay more for the national WfW Programme, than for the less inclusive good (i.e. the local WfW Programme). The results correspond with this expectation at the Port Elizabeth and Underberg sites. However, due to strategic factors Worcester respondents were willing to pay more for the local WfW Programme than for the national Programm

Topics: Water resources development -- South Africa, Water-supply -- South Africa, Alien plants -- South Africa, Restoration ecology -- South Africa
Publisher: Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:contentpro.seals.ac.za:d1011342
Provided by: SEALS Digital commons
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