McDougall CW, Hanley N, Quilliam RS, Needham K & Oliver DM (2020) Valuing inland blue space: A contingent valuation study of two large freshwater lakes. Science of The Total Environment, 715, Art. No.: 136921. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.136921
Water bodies, or blue spaces, offer a range of health and well-being benefits. Many of these benefits occur in waterside spaces and do not require direct water contact. For example, non-water based physical activity (e.g. walking and running) or reduced stress as a result of viewing water from a distance. However, research dedicated to understanding the economic impact of changes to freshwater ecosystems predominantly focuses on water-based recreation and water quality. As a result, the economic impacts of changes to waterside space are often overlooked. This study used the contingent valuation method to determine public preference for the protection of lakeside quality, in terms of lake views, path quality and lakeside access, at two large freshwater lakes in Scotland (Loch Lomond and Loch Leven). The aim of the study was to estimate willingness to pay among a sample of adults in Scotland (n = 1056) for the protection of lakeside quality. Results indicate that the majority of respondents are willing to pay for the preservation of lakeside quality at each lake. Based upon the most conservative estimates obtained, mean willingness to pay for the protection of lakeside quality was £12.06 per household per year at Loch Lomond and £8.44 at Loch Leven. These findings provide valuable economic data and suggest that changes to waterside space at destination water bodies have nationally important economic impacts. Greater consideration of the economic impact of changes to lakeside space is recommended in order to develop cost-effective and socially optimal water resource management policies at large freshwater lakes.
Contingent valuation method; Stated preference; Lakeside space; Willingness to pay (WTP); Lake management; Valuation gap
Science of The Total Environment: Volume 715