Achieving Robust and Socially Acceptable Environmental Policy Recommendations: Lessons from Combining the Choice Experiment Method and Institutional Analysis Focused on Cultural Ecosystem Services
1.1. Multiple Methods for Analysis of Local Governance Systems
1.2. Aims and Objectives
2. Materials and Methods
2.2. Study Area
2.3. Choice Experiment—Data Collection, Survey Design and Data Analysis
2.4. Institutional Analysis—Data Collection Design
- Two out of the three environmental NGOs identified had terminated their activities and their representatives were unavailable.
- The nature protection undertaken by regional authorities is centralised, and one employee is responsible for numerous nature reserves.
- The Eastern Ore Mountains are rather sparsely settled with limited economic exploitation (mostly pasturing), so the interaction of potential stakeholders with the nature reserves is rather low.
3.1. Choice Experiment—Sample Description and WTP Results
3.2. Institutional Analysis and Contextual Features
- Regional and state nature protectors: They possess capacities for nature protection and management. They do not support tourists seeing protected ecosystems—people can go elsewhere. They are convinced that available information and their communication with other stakeholders are sufficient—to do more is not their job (I2).
- Mayors/municipal representatives: They want to promote the mountains as a region with a high-quality environment, but they do not consider small-scale ecosystems and small nature reserves tools for increasing the attractiveness of the area (I1, I5). They have zero or limited information about them, and they do not want to interfere with nature protectors unless necessary (I4, I5). Further, I1 and I5 expressed negative attitudes against nature protection as undertaken in the Czech Republic—they see it only as an agenda incurring costs to other actors without offering any benefits/alternatives for development.
- Environmental NGO: According to I3, the NGO supplements the effort of the nature protectors in the region, but it does so mostly on small sites that it has bought out and manages as private reserves. Its resources come from private donors, and volunteering is an integral part of its efforts (this is also confirmed by evidence in ). I3 further stated that his organisation had wanted to gain public resources and to undertake the same activities in national reserves, but it had not succeeded in public calls. He said that he would encourage people to see protected ecosystems to value them even more (I3).
- Local entrepreneur: His interest is to re-develop a partly defunct mountain settlement, and he is contributing part of his profits to make it happen (launching a small zoo and tourist office next to his farm). He would support the development of new pathways around and through the nature reserves to attract more people. He has objections against the development approaches of municipal representatives from the lowlands that do not see mountain settlements as their priority (I7).
- Tourists: Based on the responses of 214 tourists gathered within the choice experiment survey, the majority visit the mountains repeatedly in one year and just for a one-day visit, mainly because the mountains are close and are a natural area. Prevailing activities during the summer are walking and cycling.
- Low participation: The decentralised efforts of local people (e.g., local NGO—I3; local entrepreneur—I7) to jointly address the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the area are apparent from their actions. Private resources and volunteering are important factors supporting these efforts. This is in strong contrast with plans of municipal representatives that view large (subsidised) infrastructural projects—such as skiing resorts—as the only means of development (I4, I1). There is also little communication between the state/regional nature protectors and local people’s initiatives, although they often have similar goals regarding the protection of the aesthetic beauty and biodiversity of the small-scale ecosystems (I6, I3).
- Bad image: There is a general bad image of state/regional nature protectors in the views of municipal representatives (I1, I5). They are not willing to continuously disseminate information or to work with the public to gain support for nature protection in the area. They mostly use power tools to conserve the existing protected land (I2, I8).
- In general, to initiate/support local cooperation and participation processes in order to develop a shared understanding of economic and environmental issues between decision makers (nature protectors, mayors, etc.) and citizens (including entrepreneurs and NGO representatives).
- In particular, to jointly develop a local sustainable development strategy based on ecosystem quality and capacities of local people and organisations (which are already in place). Do not rely excessively on external interventions (such as subsidies) to solve local problems.
3.3. Triangulation of Findings from the Choice Experiment and Institutional Analysis
- Decision makers at various levels should pursue a policy focused on small-scale ecosystem protection based on people’s stated preferences.
- Due to people’s clear sentiment towards the specific Eastern Ore Mountains countryside, local resources for biodiversity management support should be activated (especially regarding those small-scale ecosystems situated outside nature reserves and therefore enjoying no formal protection).
- The biodiversity protection model in the area should be built on participatory principles—local people should be treated as insiders of the planning and management processes.
- The interest in and acceptance of the biodiversity protection of small-scale ecosystems within the participatory principle model would be increased by putting an effort into the preferred ecosystems.
- Proposals for traditional top-down instruments of environmental regulation (administrative or market-oriented), if any, should be treated with care and with respect to the local context.
4. Discussion and Conclusions
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Author, Year||Quantitative Method||Qualitative Method||Relationship between Qualitative and Quantitative Methods||Topic|
|Powe et al. 2005 |
Austin et al. 2010 
|Choice experiment||Focus groups||Qualitative method as a supplement to quantitative method||Water services|
|Ahlheim et al. 2010 ||Contingent valuation||Citizen expert groups||Qualitative method as a supplement to quantitative method||Drinking water services|
|Clark et al. 2000 ||Contingent valuation||In-depth discussion and focus groups||Qualitative method as a supplement to quantitative method||Nature conservation|
|Desaigues 2001 ||Contingent valuation||In-depth interviews||Qualitative method as a supplement to quantitative method||Air quality|
|Feucht and Zander 2018 ||Choice experiment||In-depth interviews||Qualitative method as a supplement to quantitative method||Climate change|
|Our approach||Choice experiment||Institutional analysis||Qualitative method as a full and equal complement to quantitative method||Small-scale ecosystem management|
|-With farm animals or without|
|-Overgrown or not|
|Mountain streams||-With natural channels (natural streams)|
|-With regulated channels|
|Travel cost (one-way/per trip/per person)||-400 CZK- (20 USD **)|
|-800 CZK (40 USD)|
|-1100 CZK (55 USD)|
|Place of Residence||Number of Respondents||Distance from Data Collection Sites (in km)|
|Ústí nad Labem||31||24|
|Other locals *||45||Within 50 km|
|Other visitors **||28||More than 50 km|
|Variable||Coefficient||Standard Error||b/Standard Error||P (|Z| > z)||Expected Sign|
|Clearance cairns not overgrowing||0.780 ***||0.680||−6.159||0.000||Not significant|
|Natural streams||0.617 ***||0.079||8.639||0.000||+|
|Meadows with farm animals||−0.376 ***||0.095||−25.703||0.000||−|
|Overgrown meadows||−0.569 ***||0.090||−22.115||0.000||−|
|Travel costs||0.001 ***||0.001||−14.335||0.000||−|
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Louda, J.; Vojáček, O.; Slavíková, L. Achieving Robust and Socially Acceptable Environmental Policy Recommendations: Lessons from Combining the Choice Experiment Method and Institutional Analysis Focused on Cultural Ecosystem Services. Forests 2021, 12, 484. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040484
Louda J, Vojáček O, Slavíková L. Achieving Robust and Socially Acceptable Environmental Policy Recommendations: Lessons from Combining the Choice Experiment Method and Institutional Analysis Focused on Cultural Ecosystem Services. Forests. 2021; 12(4):484. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040484Chicago/Turabian Style
Louda, Jiří, Ondřej Vojáček, and Lenka Slavíková. 2021. "Achieving Robust and Socially Acceptable Environmental Policy Recommendations: Lessons from Combining the Choice Experiment Method and Institutional Analysis Focused on Cultural Ecosystem Services" Forests 12, no. 4: 484. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040484