October 15, 2010
Would you pay over $300 to ensure native birds remain at a single lake, even if you lived far away? Maybe, or maybe not. But recent debates on mining and hydro-power developments show comparing the benefit of different uses of environmental assets is both difficult and controversial. Unless we have facts on the value that Kiwis place on their natural resources, the trade-offs between promoting economic activity and a clean, green environment are going to be based on who shouts the loudest. The risk is that we take the wrong course for New Zealand. There are ways to estimate how much we value a clean, green environment. Given what is at stake, agencies responsible for natural and environmental resources need to invest in finding out how much the public values protecting the environment from degradation.