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Abstract

A vast literature exists on environmental non-market valuation research. It appears that results from these studies should be useful inputs to decision making about environmental policy or management. Here, we investigate the extent to which this occurs in practice in Australian environmental management bodies. Non-market valuation experts were surveyed about their studies that they believed to have influenced policy. Then, decision makers in environmental bodies were interviewed about the level of influence non-market valuation has had on their decisions. We find that researchers’ perceptions of the influence that non-market valuation has on decision making are overly optimistic. Interviews with decision makers suggest that non-market valuation is little used in decision making. Indeed, the majority of them are unfamiliar with non-market valuation techniques. Nevertheless, once the concept was explained to them, many decision makers believed it could benefit environmental policy. Researchers’ perceptions of the reasons for low usage of non-market valuation are largely inaccurate. We suggest a range of strategies that economists can use to promote the use of non-market valuation in environmental policy and management decisions, including ways to improve communication and engagement with decision makers, and strategies to increase the capacity for decision makers to use non-market valuation results.

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