Are Visitors Willing to Pay for a Green Park?: A Study in a Brazilian Ecological Park

Are Visitors Willing to Pay for a Green Park?: A Study in a Brazilian Ecological Park

Clayton Robson Moreira da Silva (Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Piauí, Brazil), Diego Sampaio Vasconcelos Ramalho Lima (Federal University of Ceará, Brazil), Ivaneide Ferreira Farias (Federal University of Ceará, Brazil), Laís Vieira Castro Oliveira (Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Piauí, Brazil) and Raimundo Eduardo Silveira Fontenele (Federal University of Ceará, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSESD.2020070101

Abstract

This study verifies the willingness of visitors in contributing towards the preservation and conservation of Rio Cocó Ecological Park. Contingent Valuation Method was used with estimation of the values of the Willingness to Pay (WTP). 159 questionnaires were applied with park visitors. Descriptive analysis, logistic regression and calculation of WTP were used. The results indicated that 58% of respondents are willing to pay to visit the park. The data shows that: 64% were female; 25% had dependents; the average number of visits to the park was 2.09 visits per year; the mean age was 29.69 years; and the average salary of the respondents was R$ 3,669.00. Logistic regression reveals that family income, gender, and number of dependents have positive influence on WTP while schooling and conservation influence negatively. There was also an average WTP of R$ 11.53 to visit the park and a total WTP of R$ 44,194.49 per month.
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Introduction

The consumption of environmental resources generates several benefits and is mainly reflected in the general well-being of individuals. Some benefits can be valued more easily because they are related in some way to the market system (food production, for example). However, some goods and services generated do not have market prices which make it difficult to measure them (Pearce, 1993). According to Randall (1987), this is because natural resources are public goods and therefore are common resources, free access and undefined property rights.

With the absence of a market that serves as a parameter, the establishment of a monetary value for these benefits is hampered. One of the solutions used to overcome this difficulty is the implementation of environmental valuation methods which value and attribute values to the goods and services generated by the environment (Finco, Rodrigues, Rodrigues, Barbosa & Silva, 2005).

Methods such as Contingent Valuation take into account the fact that people express their preferences every day and thus use monetary values to indicate gains and losses in their usefulness or well-being. When individuals indicate their willingness to pay (WTP), the preferences of that consumer are reflected by the exchange of monetary units for that good. Because the result must be added and analyzed to measure the benefits of the environmental good to society, the individuals WTP is different but the output is to aggregate them to obtain the total WTP (Laurila-Pant, Lehikoinen, Uusitalo & Venesjärvi, 2015; Santos, Wakim, Magalhães, Silva & Veiga, 2012; Han, Yang, Wang & Xu, 2011; Pearce & Turner, 1990).

The present study discusses the valuation of an environmental good with consideration of the contingent valuation method (CVM), using WTP. The ecological asset evaluated is the Rio Cocó Ecological Park located in the municipality of Fortaleza, capital of Ceará. According to the State Superintendence of the Environment (Secretaria Estadual do Meio Ambiente – SEMACE) (2016), the Rio Cocó Ecological Park has an area of 1,155.2 hectares.

The Rio Cocó Ecological Park is in the process of adaptation to the National System of Conservation Units (NSCU), Federal Law 9985 of July 18, 2000, with proposal of denomination of Cocó State Park. Its creation aims to protect and conserve existing natural resources in order to recover and maintain the ecological balance necessary for the preservation of terrestrial and aquatic biota and to provide conditions for education, recreation, ecotourism and scientific research activities (SEMACE, 2016).

In this context, the following research question that led to the development of this study was outlined: What is the willingness to pay of Rio Cocó Ecological Park visitors to keep the park preserved and conserved? In order to answer this research question, this study aimed to verify the willingness to pay of visitors of Rio Cocó Ecological Park to keep it preserved and conserved. Specifically, it aimed to detect from the WTP how much people are willing to pay to enjoy the park and to delineate the profile of these visitors.

This is a descriptive study in terms of its objectives and is quantitative in its approach. A logistic regression model (logit) was used in order to identify which variables influence the existence or not of WTP by the park visitors. The data collection was primary and conducted through a survey which collected 159 visitor questionnaires from the Cocó Park composing the sample of this study. The instrument of collection was elaborated based on the study of Vasconcelos (2014).

The study is justified by the importance of natural resources being estimated, making it possible to provide competent bodies and decision makers with mechanisms that serve as a basis for the implementation of conservation and preservation policies for natural and environmental resources (Portugal Júnior, Portugal & Abreu, 2012). In addition, the estimated value of environmental assets can serve as a parameter to determine the value of fines for damages to the environment (Finco et al., 2005). Finally, this study is important to enrich the discussion about the application of environmental valuation methods in ecological parks.

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