This paper explores the effect of an individual’s knowledge of biodiversity on the nature of his or her preferences for its preservation. Previous research suggests that individuals have a limited understanding of the concept of biodiversity and that some may be unwilling to trade-off changes in biodiversity against income. We hypothesize that the way in which individuals understand biodiversity is such that meaningful preferences for biodiversity preservation are more likely to be expressed for large scale non-marginal changes (i.e. a regional or greater scope geographically and at a genus or greater scope genetically). Similarly we suggest that individuals can express preferences for different management regimes or policies at a large scale but are limited by a lack of technical expertise at the species or site scale. Many of the methodological constraints relating to non-market valuation of biodiversity at the species or genetic scale, are less critical at the larger scale. Similarly, the degree of uncertainty about functional relationships at the species level are less critical when considering an individual’s willingness to pay for an aggregate measure of biodiversity preservation. A discrete-choice contingent ranking valuation study is proposed to identify willingness to pay to preserve biodiversity and preferences for different management strategies. The study will address the value of endemic biodiversity in a lowland ecosystem in one region of New Zealand.


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