Modeling forest protection values for the southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
Household economic value for southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest protection may be sensitive to changes in the forest's physical condition. Further, different recreation groups may hold significantly dissimilar values for forest protection. Household and recreation group willingness to pay for southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest protection was estimated using responses from a mail-out referendum style contingent valuation survey. To test the hypothesis that willingness to pay for forest protection is not sensitive to the condition of the forest's physical condition, 1,000 southeastern households were randomly assigned one of two different forest protection scenarios. Households in the first sample were asked to value a protection program for a forest showing no visible sign of impact from insect or atmospheric disturbance. Households in the second sample were asked to value a protection program for a forest already experiencing impact from insect infestation and air pollution. Logit analysis of the two samples revealed no statistically significant difference in willingness to pay between the two forest protection programs. These results suggest that, over the range of forest conditions tested, a household's value for forest protection may be insensitive to the forest's physical condition.