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Achieving Robust and Socially Acceptable Environmental Policy Recommendations: Lessons from Combining the Choice Experiment Method and Institutional Analysis Focused on Cultural Ecosystem Services

The article describes how the use of a combination of quantitative and qualitative scientific methods could contribute to the design of socially acceptable environmental policy recommendations.

Abstract: The reflection of ecosystem services in environmental policy has recently become a key aspect in solving environmental problems occurring as a consequence of their overburdening. However, decision makers often pay attention predominantly to results of quantitative (monetary valuation) methods. This article explores a new way of combining quantitative and qualitative methods that has proven to be a useful practice for achieving better environmental governance. We combine the (quantitative) choice experiment method and (qualitative) institutional analysis as full and equal complements. In our approach, the goal of qualitative institutional analysis is not to verify the adequacy of willingness-to-pay results but rather to better address cultural and social perspectives of society representatives. Such an approach increases the robustness of policy recommendations and their acceptance in comparison with isolated applications of both methods. To verify this general premise, both methods were applied in the territory of the Eastern Ore Mountains in the Czech Republic to capture preferences and attitudes of local stakeholders as well as tourists towards small-scale ecosystems. The results confirm that preference calculations regarding aesthetic values of ecosystems need to be complemented with facts about institutional settings and barriers in order to better address locally relevant recommendations for decision makers, such as the introduction of new economic instruments (e.g., local taxes or entrance fees). The findings of this study can also be considered for governance of larger local, common-pool resources such as (public) forests or protected areas.

Louda, J., Vojáček, O., Slavíková, L. (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 (4): 484. https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/12/4/484