The willingness to pay for ecosystem services on the Tibetan Plateau of China

Elsevier, Geography and Sustainability, Volume 1, Issue 2, June 2020, Pages 141-151
Yanxu Liu

Ecosystem Services (ES) are common-pool resources that can be valued by people's willingness to pay (WTP). In contrast to place-based WTP research at the community-level, the stakeholders tend to be geographically diverse, and the benefits are not spatially apparent on the national level. Aiming to find the geographical diversity of the WTP for ES at the large scale, this study implemented an online survey of more than 25,000 samples to detect the WTP of Chinese people for water conservation, soil retention, carbon fixation, pollution decomposition, biodiversity conservation, and aesthetic existence of the Tibetan Plateau. The results showed the top limit of payments was 1,080.95 CNY/year/capita on average, and people would like to pay 172.40 CNY/year/capita for water conservation, which is the highest among the six ES. The percent of people “Aged 16–35”, “Government agency staff” and “Know WTP” influenced payments at provincial level. On an individual level, people's knowledge and attitudes directly drove the payment amounts, as well as their ecosystem management decisions. Consequently, geographical diversity of the payment for ES exists in China, and in contrast to the objective social structure and spatial accessibility of ES, people's knowledge and attitudes were the main driving forces of this geographical diversity. These findings suggest that a bottom-up adaptive governance approach is encouraged for managing common pool resources in developing countries.