Lviv region population's willingness to pay for forests care in accordance with the expressed preferences
Growing demand for recreation in the Carpathian Mountains region gives rise to new challenges related to the need for formation of recreationally attractive forests. In recent decades in Europe, many studies have been conducted on social perception of recreational forests, and preferences regarding their attributes, such as tree species composition, horizontal and vertical stand structure, canopy cover and deadwood distribution (Tyrväinen et al., 2003; Nielsen et al., 2007; Edwards et al., 2012; Paletto et al., 2013; Jankovska et al., 2014; Pelyukh and Zahvoyska, 2018; Pelyukh et al., 2019a, 2019b). Similar studies were conducted in Ukraine (Blyhchak and Soloviy, 2009; Kalutskiy, 2012; Zahvoyska and Bas, 2007; Nijnik et al., 2017), however, they were carried out without regard to the forest characteristics, which are important for decision-making aiming sustainable forest management. Previous investigations in Lviv region have shown that the population prefers mixed uneven-aged forests with informational and educational stands in recreational zones (Pelyukh and Zahvoyska, 2018) and want to preserve the forest ecosystem for future generations (Zahvoyska and Shvediuk, 2015). At the same time, population do not intend to visit forests that are far from their place of residence and forests with deadwood. To integrate population’s preferences into forestdecision making for sustainable forest management is necessary to determine their monetary value.
recreation forest, participatory forest management, questionnaire survey, regression analysis
The aim of this study is to determine the Lviv region population’s willingness to pay (WTP) for forests care according to preferred characteristics using contingent valuation method and to investigate the influence of socio-economic characteristics of respondents on the WTP through regression analysis. The study area is Lviv region in the western part of Ukraine. The region has a surface of 21,833 km2 and a population of 2,497,750 inhabitants divided into seven subregions. The population of the Lviv region mostly lives in urban area (60.7%). Lviv region is one of the most forested regions of Ukraine (Figure 1). The forests cover 31.8% of the Lviv region territory with the average growth stock of 258 m3 per ha. Recreation forests cover a surface area of 2951 km2 comprising 19.1% from all forest stands.
The research is structured into three steps: (1) development of a research questionnaire; (2) data collection; and (3) data processing.
Development of a research questionnaire
The residents of Lviv region were involved into survey using a semi-structured questionnaire divided into five thematic sections. The first section included questions on respondents' use of forests for recreation. The second section included twelve illustrated choice sets for choosing forest with preferred attributes. The third section included brief questions concerning preferences for the attributes. These questions served as a control of consistency for the preferences elicited in the choice experiment questions. Additionally, the section included questions about WTP for forest care in accordance with the expressed preferences. The fourth section included questions about visits of respondents to forest in childhood (until the age of 11) and how they remember them. Finally, questions revealing demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of respondents were asked. All questions were short, simple and realistic in order to minimize the time needed to fill in the questionnaire and thus motivate respondents to do so.
The survey was conducted in the period from 13-14 August 2015 in different villages and cities in the Lviv region, namely Lviv, Shchyrets, Semenivka, Pustomyty, Poverhiv, Nova Oparska, Skole, Slavske, Zymna Voda, Obroshyno, Lyubyntsi, Nyzhnie Synovydne, Verhnie Synovydne. The sample of respondents (n=100) was sized considering the main socio-demographic characteristics of local population in the Lviv region such as gender, age and residence.
In this study, the results of the first and third thematic sections are presented. The collected data were statistically analysed considering the socio-demographic characteristics of respondents. The main descriptive statistics have been developed for all questions. Regression analysis of the collected data from question about respondent's WTP was carried out using Microsoft Excel.
A total 100 questionnaires were collected. The response rate was 72.46% Regarding the gender, 52% respondents are women, and 48% respondents are men. Most of the respondents live in an urban area (62%), whereas 38% in a rural area. The majority of respondents have an age between 25-39 years old (40%) and more than 40 years old (40%). The results concerning the level of education indicate a quite high degree: 74% of respondents have a university degree. 69% of respondents have a child.
All respondents have visited forests at least once in the last 12 months. 37% of respondents have visited the forest often (1-12 times per month). 42% of respondents once every 2-5 mounts. Only 20% of respondents have been in the forest twice a year. Respondents (69%) who have children visited the forest more often. 70% of respondents have walked in the forest in the last 12 months. Other respondents mainly played with children (67% of respondents), gathered wild mushrooms, berries, plants (55%), rode bicycles (36%), worked (24%) or enjoyed forest landscapes (22%).
Forests, recently visited by the respondents, were characterised by a little presence of broadleaves compared to conifers (66% of respondents indicated this), a little difference of tree species composition (62%) and height of the trees (58%). Regarding an educational path, 45% of respondents noted that they were not enough. 35% of respondents indicated that there were no educational paths at all. Respondents' answers about picnic facilities are divided: 39% of respondents indicated that there were enough of picnic facilities, the other 39% - not enough. 22% indicated that there were no picnic facilities at all. 39% of respondents indicated that trees were planted in rows and there were few (55%) / many (41%) dead or dying trees.
Respondents indicated that next time they would like to visit forests that would have more widespread characteristics such as educational paths (75%), higher variability of tree species (67% of the respondents), picnic facilities (68%), different height of the trees (63%), wider presence of broadleaves comparing to conifers (55%). At the same time 53% of respondents would like dead or dying trees to be less widespread. The majority of respondents (55%) could not clearly state whether they would like the trees planted in rows to be less or more.
The results show that the respondents’ WTP for forests care according to preferred characteristics on averages 436.25 UAH per year (1% of the average annual household income). The lowest value of WTP was 50 UAH per year, the largest - 1250 UAH per year per household.
Regression model of WTP with a probability of 95% shows that:
- with increasing age of respondents on one year, the value of WTP will increase by 7.60 UAH per year;
- birth of children in the respondents will increase WTP by 325.32 UAH per year;
- raising the educational and qualification level of respondents by one level will increase WTP by 116.12 UAH per year; and
- with an increase the annual income of households by 1,000 UAH/year, the value of WTP will increase by 63.52 UAH per year.
The results make a positive contribution to the ongoing discussions on the expanding the recreational use of forests and formation recreationally attractive forest landscapes resistant to emerging threats. Also, the results of this study can support forest managers in at least two major aspects. Firstly, to understand local people’s values towards different forest stand characteristics and integrate these values into multifunctional forest management planning. Secondly, to avoid possible conflicts between local community and forest enterprises through detection of their interests in recreational attractiveness of forest stands. These two aspects are fundamental for implementing policy and management strategies aimed at sustainable forest management in the Ukrainian Carpathians.
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Oksana Pelyukh, Ph.D., Lyudmyla Zahvoyska, Assoc. Professor, Docent Department of Ecological Economics Ukrainian National Forestry University Lviv, firstname.lastname@example.org