Ways of evaluating forests

  • 30/07/2005

Ways of evaluating forests Kanchan Chopra has valued the biodiversity of Keoladeo national park using the travel cost method (TCM) to value tourism and recreation. TCM assumes people value a forest in terms of the cost of getting there as well as the opportunity cost of time spent travelling. A survey of people visiting Keoladeo to find out their costs, and added information like their income-levels, yielded an equation for the demand of the site. The annual recreational value of the park was found to be about Rs 16,000 per hectare (ha), with visitors willing to pay Rs 427 for entry. Chopra also used a multi criteria analysis, getting different stakeholders in the park to rank its various values. She found that all of them valued livelihood benefits and ecological functions the highest

Households in Mumbai are willing to pay Rs 7.50 each to conserve the Borivilli national park. This was a conclusion of a study by N Hadker, S Sharma and others. The authors used the contingent valuation method (CVM). The main use value of the area is for recreation, for 2.5 million visitors; indirect uses include its role as a source of Mumbai's drinking water and as a home to many endangered animals. The park's annual budget is US $520,000. The total amount people were willing to pay was US $31.6 billion!

CVM is a popular method for valuation. Through surveys and questionnaires, two calculations are made: the willingness to pay to continue receiving benefits, or the willingness to accept compensation for loss of benefits. A demand curve of the kind thrown up in market situations is constructed. It can be used for both use and non-use values. Chopra and Kadekodi have used CVM to value the intangible benefits of forests in the Yamuna Basin, which covers districts from Himachal Pradesh to Madhya Pradesh. They chose three watersheds in the hills and three in the plains. Sample surveys of 600 households showed that the ecological functions of the forests had a value of Rs 624 per ha annually for each household.They calculated the watershed values of the Yamuna basin using the indirect replacement or reduced cost of alternatives method. In the Shivalik hills, controlling soil erosion is the main watershed function: it would cost Rs 2 lakh per ha meter of soil to replace this service the forest provides. The productivity change method is also used calculate a forest's watershed value. The loss of productivity in agricultural fields, in terms of soil conservation and irrigation water, is taken as an indication of the value of the forest.

Using tree species-wise forest data, G S Haripriya found that the carbon store value

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