Monday, February 4, 2013

Saving a salmon–$40; saving a right whale–$73; saving a Panamanian frog–priceless?

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Researchers are often interested in finding out our willingness to pay.  They use travel cost models to try to figure out how much a vacation experience is worth to us.  They use surveys to see whether we’re willing to pay to clean the Chesapeake Bay.  But what maned wolfabout endangered species?  Are some species worth more to us than others?  Would we pay the same amount to save the Kauai cave spider as the polar bear? 

A recent study in the journal Conservation Biology found that we value different species differently.  A survey of 8476 households found that respondents were willing to pay for the recovery of threatened and endangered marine species, but they weren’t willing to pay the same amount for each species.  While households were willing to shell out $73 to save the northern right whale, they were only willing to spend $40 to save the Puget Sound Chinook salmon or $43 for the loggerhead sea turtle.  The good news is, as stated by the authors, “…the public derives a positive economic value from recovering and downlisting threatened and endangered marine species.” 

So what are we willing to pay to save endangered species and the ecosystems in which they live?  Be sure to read about the 100 most endangered species and decide for yourself what you’re willing to pay and do to save endangered species.  Remember, you can pay with money (donations to your favorite environmental organizations) and/or with time – letters to your representatives and local newspapers, or volunteering at a local park or wilderness area.

Wallmo, K. and D. Lew.  2012.  “Public Willingness to Pay for Recovering and Downlisting Threatened and Endangered Species.”  Conservation Biology, Vol 26, No. 5. pp. 830-839.

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