Biodiversity values for alternative management regimes in remote UK coniferous forests: an iterative bidding polychotomous choice approach

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The overwhelming majority of commercial forestry in the UK comprises blanket non-native coniferous species with low biodiversity levels. The UK government is committed under the Rio Principles and Helsinki Guidelines to conserve and enhance biodiversity in British forests and woodlands. This paper assesses the passive use value of biodiversity in remote non-visited coniferous forests, and the costs of diversification and restructuring. Focus groups were employed to aid the design and framing of the study. An iterative bidding polychotomous choice format was used to elicit willingness-to-pay values for different biodiversity standards and management options. Whilst, passive use benefits exceeded costs for biodiversity conservation, considerable ambivalence in choice occurred between different levels of biodiversity. The policy relevance of the results are discussed, and compared to the practical implementation measures for biodiversity being adopted by the Forestry Commission.

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