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Economic valuation of urban forest benefits in Finland.

Published Article
Journal of environmental management
Publication Date
PMID: 11400466


Urban development projects may cause loss of amenity values of green areas, which should be taken into consideration in planning. Therefore, quantitative information on residents' valuation concerning urban forests is needed for assessing urban land use. The purpose of this investigation was to study the valuation of urban forests in two different urban environments Joensuu and Salo, Finland. The aims were to study the attitudes towards and benefits related to the use of urban forests and, in particular, to measure the valuations in monetary terms using contingent valuation, i.e. measure the residents' willingness-to-pay for larger wooded recreation areas and for small forested parks. Urban forests were seen in both towns as clearly producing positive benefits rather than causing negative effects. The negative features of forests were related to the management of the areas rather than their existence. The main values were related to nature and social functions of forests. In contrast, timber production achieved a distinctively low priority in both study towns. The results stress the importance of defining urban forest policies for municipalities in Finland. More than two-thirds of the respondents were willing to pay for the use of recreation areas. Good location and active management raised the average WTP. Moreover, approximately half of the respondents were willing to pay for preventing construction in urban forests. The results also show that the monetary value of amenity benefits in recreation areas is much higher than the present maintenance costs. The examples concerning the advantageousness of construction on green areas suggest that a limit could be found where the infill of housing areas is not worthwhile from the point of view of society, if the losses of green space benefits are taken into account.


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