This study uses choice modelling to investigate public and expert preference divergence through a valuation of the Kimberley’s tropical waterways and wetlands in Western Australia. A sample of Australian tropical river scientists participated in an identical survey to the West Australian public. Within the public sample, a split survey design is utilised to examine the effects of information on preferences – a low information version provided sufficient information for respondents to participate in the survey, while a high information version provided a more thorough and detailed description of the attributes. Divergent preferences are apparent between the public and scientist samples. This is illustrated through two key results: first, an attempt to merge the data for each of the samples is rejected; and second, there are differences in conservation preferences. The scientists had stronger preferences to protect system based attributes and threatened species, and were generally not willing to pay to protect iconic attributes. The public, on the other hand, held positive and more evenly spread values for all attributes. Information had an impact on public preferences, particularly through the rejection of a combined low/high information model, but also with respect to the iconic species attribute, where there is a pattern of decreasing willingness to pay as information level increases.


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