[Archive] Valuing informal recreation on the Forestry Commission Estate
Lead Author: J.F. Benson
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Lead Author: J.F. Benson
The Bulletin estimates the consumer surplus (or net monetary benefit) from informal recreation on the Forestry Commission estate. The Forestry Commission’s estate of more than 1 million hectares is managed for mutiple-use and multiple benefits. Calculations of the costs and benefits of timber production are made in financial terms using discounted cash flow models. Most of the other uses and benefits, whether informal recreation, wildlife and landscape conservation, carbon fixing or job creation in rural areas, cannot easily be evaluated in this way, either because no markets exist or because many of the benefits are ‘public’ goods. However, techniques do exist for estimating the benefits of such uses and resources in monetary terms, and these are described. A cluster analysis was used to select a representative sample of 14 Forest Districts in which recreational visitor surveys were made. Calculations of consumer surplus were based on a travel cost method of valuation. The average consumer surplus per visit is £2 at 1988 prices. The sensitivity of this result to different assumptions is examined and compared with the limited number of previous studies in Great Britain. Various estimates of visitor numbers, by Forest District and in total, are reviewed. The figures are combined to estimate a total value of £53 million per year (1988 prices) for non-priced informal recreation on the Forestry Commission estate in Great Britain. The average is £47 per hectare but with a very wide variation between the extremes £1 per hectare in remote areas to over £400 per hectare in exceptional cases such as the New Forest, related to accessibility and other factors. The total benefit exceeds the estimate of £10 million quoted by the National Audit Office in 1986.
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