In order to value the transformation of landscapes from an economic perspective, survey respondents are usually presented with pictures of various landscapes with the aim to visualize differences in their appearance. The current paper presents a classroom experiment ascertaining differences, and potential advantages and disadvantages, of 2D versus 3D (stereoscopic) presentations of landscape changes. The landscape to be valued was a traditional Alpine pasture in the Austrian Alps as a prominent example of natural and cultural heritage (traditional economy and specific ecology). Two alternative scenarios included, on the one hand, changes in agricultural uses, leading to natural afforestation (reforestation) and decay of existing infrastructure (e.g., hiking trails). On the other hand, significantly extended tourism infrastructure (e.g., new attractions for visitors) was presented. Two groups were presented manipulated pictures (2D/non-stereoscopic), and 3D (stereoscopic) presentations with 3D glasses, respectively. Both groups were then asked for their perception of landscape changes. It turns out that significant differences between the two groups could be detected in terms of the frequency of vacations at Alpine pastures. For instance, respondents in the 3D stereoscopic group stated a significantly higher frequency of trips. However, on the other hand, they did not state a significantly different willingness-to-pay to prevent landscape changes disadvantageous in terms of sustainability. The study results thus suggest that the mode of presentation may affect the valuation of landscape changes depending on the valuation instrument.
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