Biodiversity is an intangible asset essential for ecosystem function and human wellbeing. The European Union is at the forefront of biodiversity management and policy implementation and has set ambitious strategies to better protect biodiversity and lead achievement of global biodiversity goals. However, biodiversity management entails balancing a range of economic and social trade-offs. A deeper understanding of society’s perception towards biodiversity, the values attached to it, and the heterogeneity around preferences for biodiversity protection and habitat maintenance is key to inform future European strategies. This report provides Europeanlevel spatially explicit estimates of biodiversity non-use value applicable in the decision-making processes and appreciates the hidden contribution of habitat and species maintenance to human wellbeing. A stated preference survey with the choice experiment was conducted in four European countries that were selected to represent a range of diverse environmental and social contexts. A European map of biodiversity values is produced via value transfer techniques. The stated preference survey involved trade-offs between improved, maintained, or deteriorated agricultural practices (from agroforestry to monoculture) farm size interventions, chemical use intensity, biodiversity levels and annual costs. Results reveal heterogeneity in preferences across space and social groups, but biodiversity is persistently a key characteristic affecting public perception of land management practices. The average monetary value attached to habitat and species maintenance estimated as willingness to pay from the stated preference study varies from Euro 28 to 276 per year per family and reflects the current uneven conditions of European natural environment as well as attitudes and policies in support of biodiversity protection. Overall, our results suggest that strengthening habitat and species maintenance policy is considered a necessity by the public. In fact, considering the aggregated amount Europeans are prepared to pay annually (30 billion Euros) for biodiversity, we can anticipate that the Post-2020 Biodiversity policy committed to an annual budget of 20 billion Euros would likely find public support. However, regional diversity need to be fully reflected in effective and fair policy interventions.
|Published - 30 Dec 2021