Which Cultural Ecosystem Services is More Important? A Best-worst Scaling Approach

In Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy
Peer-reviewed Article

Identifying relatively important ecosystem services beforehand is essential for efficient and effective assessment. Using a best-worst scaling (BWS) method, we investigated the relative importance of cultural ecosystem services (CES) in Japan, where the second phase of national ecosystem service assessment is under consideration. Classifying CES into seven distinct categories (i.e. spiritual and religious values, recreation and tourism, aesthetic values, education and inspiration, social cohesion and sense of place, cultural diversity, and existence and bequest values), we administered a questionnaire survey at the nation-wide scale and collected 28,854 valid BWS responses from 4122 individuals. As a result, BWS successfully elicited the Japanese preferences for CES with completely distinguishable orders, which the conventional rating approach was unable to achieve. Our analysis proposed that future CES assessments in Japan should put more emphasis on aesthetic values as well as existence and bequest values. As we could not find large differences in preferences for these two services across individuals, groups and regions in relative terms, such prioritization could gain broader understanding and supports from wider audiences.