The fundamental assumption of the contingent valuation method (CYM) is that responses to CY questionnaires may be interpreted as expressions of consumer preferences. The consumer preference interpretation has been challenged in recent papers arguing that willingness to pay for wildlife preservation is generated, at least in part, by ethical concerns, rather than by a view that wildlife preservation will yield any benefit to individual respondents. Some further evidence bearing upon these questions is derived from a study of forest management in Australia undertaken by the Resource Assessment Commission (RAC). The evidence supports the interpretation that respondents are acting primarily as citizens.


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