It is now a stand-alone study on the economic valuation of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in the protected area of the Codru Nature Reserve and the Codru forest in the Republic of Moldova.
Degradation of the Codru forest and other forest ecosystems in the Republic of Moldova and their biodiversity. One of the causes of this problem targeted by the project is lack of awareness about indirect use and non-use values of forest ecosystems for society and their undervaluation in cost-benefit analysis, land use planning, and environmental policy making.
Significant effort and costs required from a researcher to conduct economic valuation studies on ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation and obtaining the necessary participation and response rates from the targeted population sample. The burden of this problem is the greatest for researchers, who are at the beginning of their economic valuation experience, but need to start an economic valuation study from somewhere.
The main goal is to estimate and present the indirect use and non-use economic values of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in the Codru Nature Reserve and the Codru forest in the Republic of Moldova.
An additional goal is to elaborate and publish a methodological guidebook that describes the step-by-step process of conducting an economic valuation study with choice modelling technique, where each step is illustrated by examples from the Codru Quest.
First Choice Modelling Study in Moldova
The Codru Quest represents the first economic valuation research on ecosystem services and biodiversity with the use of the choice modelling technique conducted in the Republic of Moldova. One of the “products” of the project is “The Codru Quest: Methodology”, the step-by-step methodological guideline on how to implement the choice modelling technique in other environmental studies.
Gamification in Economic Valuation Survey
The Codru Quest includes an experiment of using the concept of gamification in the surveying process. Its aim was to increase the participation, response, and completion rate of the survey and obtain as much valuable data from each respondent as possible. The experiment was done via the MEGA Game platform and resulted in interesting outputs and valuable insights on implementing gamification in other survey-based research.
Economic Values of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Conservation
The final result of the Codru Quest is the people’s willingness to pay (WTP) for certain ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in the Codru Nature Reserve and the Codru forest. It represents existence and bequest values that Moldovan citizens attach to ecosystem services in the Codru forest. The WTP estimates can be used as economic input for further environmental studies, as well as for environmental policy making in the country.
The Codru Quest project relies upon the existing scientific methodology of conducting economic valuation studies in developed countries and brings it to a developing country of Moldova.
To estimate economic values of such non-market good as the ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation the project uses the stated preference (SP) method. Among the family of SP methods, the Codru Quest focuses specifically on the choice modelling (CM) technique in order to elicit values of changes in characteristics of the ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in the Codru forest.
The Codru Quest research process is divided into 3 key phases:
Phase I: Pilot survey and Preliminary Data Analysis
Phase I was about making first expeditions to the Codru forest, calculating the target population sample to approach with the Codru Quest survey, deciding on the exact surveying methods to be used, designing and testing the CM survey, analyzing feedback and preliminary data from the first 100 respondents, and drawing preliminary conclusions.
Phase II: Full-scale Survey and Complete Data Analysis
Phase II included such activities, as improving the CM survey on the basis of feedback received and lessons learnt from preliminary data analysis, determining the full population sample, releasing the improved CM survey to the sampe of 200 respondents, collecting and analyzing data from it, and coming up with immediate conclusions regarding willingness-to-pay estimates.
Phase III: Preparation of Results and Their Presentation to Stakeholders
Phase III contributed to the Codru Quest research process with testing the final results on validity, aggregating them to the target population of 3500 annual visitors to the Codru Nature Reserve, elaborating final conclusions on the entire research work and its results, preparing the Final Report of the project, and presenting it to the main stakeholders.
More information about the methodology applied in the Codru Quest is available in the methodological guidebook “The Codru Quest: Methodology” below. Use it to design and conduct your own economic valuation study of environmental goods and services.
The surveying process of the Codru Quest project targeted the population sample of 201 respondents from the capital city Chisinau and 9 villages located in close proximity to the Codru Nature Reserve and the Codru forest.
The process included 2 “traditional” methods of conducting choice modelling survey and an additional innovative approach of applying gamification to collect the necessary willingness-to-pay data from the targeted respondents:
On-line / E-mail Survey
This method used the CM survey design made publicly available in the internet. The link to the survey was sent by e-mail and Messenger to randomly selected respondents from the city Chisinau, who have access to personal computer and internet.
Gamification via MEGA Game
This was done as an experiment of using gamification for increasing the participation, response, and completion rate of the CM survey and obtaining as much valuable data from each respondent as possible. The experiment was done with a sample of 100 respondents via MEGA Game: The Game with Impact.
The final design of the Codru Quest survey is presented below. You can try filling it in and then use it as inspiration for creating a CM survey for your own research project.
Results and Recommendations
The main outputs and achievements of the Codru Quest project can be represented by the following numbers:
The final results of the project, consisting of respondents’ preferences in nature conservation, estimates of their willingness-to-pay for it, and economic values of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in the Codru Nature Reserve and the Codru forest, are displayed in the presentation below.
More information about the Codru Quest project, detailed explanation of its final results, and concrete recommendations for the main stakeholders can be found in the publication “The Codru Quest: Final Report” below. You can read, download, and use it for cost-benefit analysis, land use planning, environmental policy making, and further research on economic valuation of ecosystem services.
- The Codru Quest: Datasets – Datasets for Phases I and II with separation into city and village residents.
- The Codru Quest: Final Dataset – Dataset with final WTP data from Phase II.
- The Codru Quest: Socio-economic Data – Dataset with socio-economic data of the respondents from Phase II.
- The Codru Quest: Codru.RData – Data from Phase I processed in the R software.
- The Codru Quest: Codru2.RData – Data from Phase II processed in the R software.
- The Codru Quest: Phase I Results – Summary of preliminary WTP data and feedback from the pilot survey.
- The Codru Quest: Methodology – Methodological guidebook to economic valuation with the CM technique.
- The Codru Quest: Final Report – Final report on the Codru Quest project with its results and recommendations.
- The Codru Quest: Public Policy Proposal – Proposal on the basis of the Codru Quest recommendations.
If you find the Codru Quest project interesting, you will also enjoy reading the following publications about economic valuation of ecosystem services, gamification in environmental education, and games for nature conservation:
- Andersen, L. and Gomes, G. (1997). A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
- Bennett, J. et al. (2004). Estimating society’s willingness to pay to maintain viable rural communities. The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 48:3.
- Bräuer, I. (2003). Money as an indicator: to make use of economic evaluation for biodiversity conservation. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 98(1-3).
- Fausto, F. and de Kruiff, T. (2017). Conducting Stated Preference Surveys in Developing Countries: The Choice of an Appropriate Payment Vehicle. University of Copenhagen, June 2017.
- Hanley, N. et al. (2001). Choice Modelling Approaches: A Superior Alternative for Environmental Valuation? Journal of Economic Surveys, Vol 15, No. 3.
- Hanley, N. and Barbier, E. (2009). Pricing Nature: Cost–Benefit Analysis and Environmental Policy.
- Hess, S. and Rose, J. (2009). Some lessons in stated choice survey design. Association for European Transport and contributors.
- Iscenco, A. and Li, J. (2014). The Game with Impact: Gamification in Environmental Education and Entrepreneurship. World Resources Forum 2014.
- JNCC (2013). Nature conservation and ecosystem service delivery.
- Kragt, M. and Bennet, J. (2011). Using choice experiments to value catchment and estuary health in Tasmania with individual preference heterogeneity. The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Volume 55, Issue 2, April 2011.
- MEGA (2015). MEGA Game Book.
- Naidoo, R. et al. (2008). Global mapping of ecosystem services and conservation priorities. PNAS, July 15, 2008, vol. 105, no. 28.
- OECD (2002). Handbook of Biodiversity Valuation. A Guide for Policy Makers.
- Pearce, D. (2001). The Economic Value of Forest Ecosystems. Ecosystem Health, Vol. 7, Nr. 4, December 2001.
- Pearce, D. et al. (2002). Economic Valuation with Stated Preference Techniques. Summary Guide. Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions: London, March 2002.
- Pearce, D. et al. (2006). Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Environment: Recent Developments. OECD, February 2006.
- Petrova, E. (2013). Gamifying Sustainability: Fun and Games in All Seriousness. ProJourno.
- Popa, B. et al. (2014). Forest dependence based on surveys conducted in three villages of Moldova. FLEG II (ENPI East), October 2014.
- Resende, F. et al. (2015). Economic valuation of the ecosystem services provided by a protected area in the Brazilian Cerrado: application of the contingent valuation method.
- Rolfe, J. et al. (2004). Designing the choice modelling survey instrument for establishing riparian buffers in the Fitzroy Basin. Research Report No. 3. Establishing the Potential for Offset Trading in the Lower Fitzroy River Research Reports. October 2004.
- UN (2014). The Value of Forests: Payments for Ecosystem Services in a Green Economy. Geneva Timber and Forest Study Paper 34. March 2014.
- Verutes, G. and Rosenthal, A. (2014). Using Simulation Games to Teach Ecosystem Service Synergies and Trade-offs. Environmental Practice 00 (0), September 2014.