PhD defence: Valuation of Non-Market Ecosystem Services of Forests: Preferences for Recreation, Effect of Childhood Experience, and the Role of Environmental Attitudes

PhD defence

Fitalew Agimass Taye


Forests provide a multitude of ecosystem services to society. However, not all such services are being reflected in market prices and that leads to underestimation of their economic values and suboptimal management schemes. Therefore, non-market valuation is required to provide complementary information for better forest management that underpins the concept of total economic values. In this thesis, the non-market ecosystem services of forests are evaluated with a focus on showing the impact of forest management. The thesis consists of four papers that address three main research questions: 1) Which forest structural characteristics and features affect recreational preferences? 2) Does childhood forest experience determine forest visiting habit in adulthood? And 3) How does environmental attitude influence individuals’ willingness to pay for forest management initiatives designed to enhance ecosystem service provision?
The first paper is undertaken using choice experiment (CE) data about people's preferences for forest characteristics in their future recreational visits. The variation between stands increases the recreational value of forests; and in some instances, may outweigh the contribution of variation within a stand. In the second paper, we investigate the factors that influence the choice of forest site for recreation using the survey data in which respondents were asked to indicate last visited forest sites using map tools. Relevant attributes are identified by using spatial data analysis. The factors that significantly influence choice of forest site include: forest area, tree species composition, forest density, availability of historical sites, terrain difference, state ownership, and distance. The third paper investigates the impact of past experience, in this case childhood forest experience, on forest visit frequency in adulthood based on survey data collected from nine European countries. Childhood experience is found to positively influence forest recreation practices. The frequency of visit is also significantly determined by current residential location and distance (to nearest forest). In the fourth paper, we examine the role of environmental attitude on people’s WTP for forest ecosystem services. The variation in willingness to pay for ecosystem services is illustrated using different modelling approaches and people with an ecocentric attitude are found to have higher willingness to pay compared to those with anthropocentric attitude.


Jette Bredahl Jacobsen, Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

James Gibbons, Professor, Dr., School of Environment, Natural resources and Geography, Bangor University, United Kingdom

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

Assesment Committee

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

Marianne Zandersen, Senior Researcher, Aarhus University, Denmark

David Hoyos, Professor, University of the Basque Country, Spain

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