Valuation of wildlife populations above survival

Biodiversity valuation studies often address the willingness to pay (WTP) for species survival. Many policy initiatives, however, target more generally the population levels of wildlife. This study investigated the empirical question of WTP for enhancing species populations also beyond the survival level. Respondents' WTP for increases in population levels of endangered species as well as of general wildlife in three habitats were evaluated in a choice experiment, by trading off against income tax and restrictions in recreational access. Any person may have several motives for deriving value from enhanced wildlife populations, and variation in values were analysed in a Latent Class model. We document considerable discrete variations in WTP and respondents fall into several distinct groups. The first group express a significant WTP for saving endangered species only and has no positive WTP for higher population levels, indicating that existence values dominate their WTP. The second group put emphasis on wildlife, but with equal weight attached to moderate and high increases in population for 'Endangered' as well as 'General' wildlife. Thus, they appear insensitive to scope. The pattern suggests that WTP may be affected by warm glow or deontological motivations. The third group reveal significant WTP, but for at least one of the wildlife attributes they prefer moderate increases over high. This could be due to moral motivations or reflect provision cost concerns. Our findings point to the caution needed when using results from studies focusing on species survival in valuing broader initiatives."