Chen, H. 2010. Ecosystem services from low input cropping systems and the public’s willingness to pay for them. M.S. Thesis, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.
This thesis intends to value off farm ecosystem services from low input cropping systems by estimating the public’s willingness to pay for them. Chapter one summaries what kinds of off farm ecosystem services will increase by adopting low input cropping systems and how much they will increase. It quantifies field experiment results on ecosystem services at the state level under widespread adoption of low input cropping systems and identifies a set of ecosystem service increases that are thought to significantly affect the general public. Five ecosystem service changes including reductions in drain dredging, flood damage, high nitrate drinking water wells, eutrophic lakes, and greenhouse gas emission were identified as having a significant impact on the general public. Chapter one lays the scientific base for the services valued in chapter two.
Chapter two focuses on the economic valuation of ecosystem service changes. Two ecosystem service changes, eutrophic lakes reduction and greenhouse gas emission reduction are selected. The contingent valuation survey is applied. A mail survey was sent to 6000 randomly selected Michigan residents. Results show that Michigan residents are willing to pay for a decrease in eutrophic lakes, but only the 40% who are concerned about global warming are willing to pay for a decrease in greenhouse gas emission. Another finding is that people’s probability of having zero willingness to pay is endogenous. It is sensitive to the scope of ecosystem service changes and some demographic variables such as household income and attitudes towards global warming. The implication is that studies that do not allow the share of people with zero willingness to pay to adjust to the magnitude of ecosystem service changes will undervalue increases in ecosystem services.
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