PhD defence: Environmental Valuation of Conserving the Setiu Wetland in Malaysia - With a focus on understanding preference heterogeneity and solving methodological challenges

PhD defence

Suziana Binti Hassan


Malaysia is one of the new emerging economies in Southeast Asia, but as many systems and institutions are still under development, it is comparable many other developing countries in terms of environmental, economic valuation research. Empirical evidence shows that many valuation studies conducted in developing countries are of poor quality and questioning the relevancy of its outcomes. In Malaysia, the Choice Experiment (CE) methods is still new in the sense that several techniques need to be improved and adapted, and many research questions remain yet to be answered. Therefore, this thesis will enrich the application of CE literature by applying the Stated Preference (SP) technique to the economic valuation of non-marketed environmental services from wetland conservation.

This thesis consists of three empirical papers divided into two topics. The first part concerns the methodological improvement of SP survey applications specifically on the challenge of selecting an appropriate payment vehicle for valuing environmental goods in countries like Malaysia. The second part focuses on recognizing and understanding taste heterogeneity for better welfare estimates. The enhanced conservation alternatives are described in terms of improved buffer zone ranges, improvements in biodiversity of the area, improved recreational access and services and reduced risk of flooding in the rural and urban areas around the wetlands. Two main effects of preference heterogeneity were considered in the model estimation, i.e. dweller living area either urban or rural area and respondents’ attitudes on the link between human and nature, which is measured with a well-known attitudinal scale, New Ecological Paradigm.

The test on new payment vehicle that can inspire further efforts for the researchers in the developing or emerging economies in their application of stated preference environmental valuation methods. While, the management and policy design should address both the residential area and environmental attitudes effects on preferences for improvement of the wetland conservation. This dissertation has demonstrated the different methods in value estimation as well as enriched our knowledge and understanding of the public preferences on the environmental issues. Yet, there are open opportunities for developing more mixed approaches for valuation techniques and contribute to sustainable resource management.


Bo Jellesmark Thorsen, Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Søren Bøye Olsen, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Syamsul Herman M. Afandi, Dr., Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

Assesment Committee

Thomas Lundhede, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Anna Bartczak, Dr., Division of Microeconomics of the Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, Poland

Awang Noor Abd. Ghani, Dr., Professor, Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

If you are interested in a full copy of the thesis, you can contact the PhD
student or one of the supervisors.