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ENHANCE Module 4: Relevance of enhancing ecosystem quality for society and economy



The ENHANCE project tests and evaluates ecosystem connectivity with state-of-the art molecular genetic experiments and population-dynamic analysis in terrestrial and riparian habitats, prior and after connectivity is enhanced. ENHANCE uses the expertise of WSL, ETHZ, EAWAG and EPFL teams to quantify species-specific population viability in aquatic and terrestrial habitats prior and after structural connectivity is enhanced with experimental interventions. The findings are used to link structural connectivity measures with species-specific responses and to calibrate a set of models to up-scale empirical findings to various biotic and spatial scales. Since enhancing ecosystem connectivity is a nature conservation and management issue of highest priority, we will provide societal and economic assessments of recently perfomed interventions that aim at increasing structural connectivity. Special emphasis is given to evaluate people’s attitudes and perception towards ecosystem enhancement.

ENHANCE Module 4

Module 4 questions to be answered:

  • QM4.1: Which ecosystem enhancement contributes best to perceived quality of life and is economically most beneficial?
  • QM4.2: Which participatory management and planning approaches and which institutional settings contribute best to make the implementation of ecosystem-management and planning strategies effective and efficient?
  • Module Leader: Marcel Hunziker

Sub-module 1: Attitude research, including economic value assignments

The overall goal of this sub-module is to find those nature and ecosystem qualities and connectivity degrees that contribute best to perceived quality of life and to estimate the economic benefit an increase of live quality, as caused by ecosystem-enhancement interventions. A short inductive research phase serves to reveal deep insights into the needs and preferences of the population. A deductive phase will test a model and elaborate representative quantitative data regarding the goals and questions of the study. The following sampling strata (human populations) will be examined in both phases: (1) the whole Swiss population and (2), as special strata of (1), the residents of specific case-study areas.

Task 1: Gaining an understanding of the societal and economic significance of ecosystem qualities and their enhancement for people and stakeholders

This task will be reached in two phases. In the short inductive research phase, problem centered interviews (Witzel 1985) will be conducted. The interviewees will be selected according to the "theoretical sampling strategy" (Strauss 1991: 43f; Patton 1990). Out of the range of possible qualitative techniques (Lamnek 1989) the "problem-centred interview" of Witzel (1985) will be applied. The recorded interviews will be transcribed and analysed according to the approach of the "Grounded Theory" of Strauss (1991). The theoretical model will be established on the basis of these analyses and on existing theories and studies. In the deductive research phase, a discrete-choice approach will be applied. A standardised questionnaire will consist of choice sets, which represent combinations of different attributes relevant for the ecosystem enhancement (e.g. different ecosystem qualities, visualisations of the resulting landscape etc.). One such attribute will be an adequate statement of the monetary consequences each scenario will have, in order to measure in an indirect way the price/economic value ascribed to this attribute. The data will be analysed using univariate and multivariate statistical methods in order to test the theoretical model. The sample of the Swiss population will be drawn by a random procedure, based on generally available data on household addresses (BFS). The size of the netto-sample shall be at least 1000 in order to achieve sufficiently precise results. The samples of the residents of the case-study areas will be drawn in the same way, aiming at a netto-sample size of 100 per case-study area.


Sub-module 2: Economic research

The overall goal of this sub-module is to develop a synthesis of realised and planned enhancement measures with regard to cost and benefit, losers and winners, and distributional effects. To reach this goal, the following task will be elaborated. The overall goal of this sub-module is to identify cost and benefits of enhancement measures and the distributional effects involved. The cost side of such measures is financed by additional third party money. To reach this goal, the following task will be elaborated.

Task 2: Cost-benefit analyses of enhancement and de-fragmentation measures to answer the following questions:<br/>

  • What is an appropriate general scheme for cost-benefit analyses for defragmentation and enhancement measures, what are pitfalls?
  • What are the benefits of such measures, how can they be evaluated?
  • Who are the winners and losers of such measures, what are the distributional effects?

This task will be reached with the following methods:

  • Comparative analysis (meta-analysis, van den Bergh 1997) of cost-benefit analyses of realized measures of de-fragmentation (restoration). The comparison will focus on the analysis of aspects taken into account (system boundaries) and the weight that these aspects. The results will be synthesized in an overall scheme for cost-benefit analyses. For this analysis, available documents, cost-benefit analyses and literature will be used.
  • Analysis of the socio-economic and political context (interviews, analysis of financial flows) of particular de-fragmentation and enhancement measures in order to identify winners and losers, and the distributional effects. Method: qualitative interviews analysed following methods of social empirical research (e.g. Lamnek 1989).
  • Development of a concept of benefit analysis of particular measures of defragmentation/enhancement completing the cost analyses realised in a third party founded project. This step derives from classical methods of cost-benefit analysis (e.g. Hanley and Spash 1993).


Sub-module 3: Planning and management research

The overall goal is to evaluate whether (participatory) planning and management approaches measures as well as corresponding institutional settings foster public acceptance of ecosystem-enhancement strategies. To reach this goal, two methodical steps will be conducted: (a) in a literature search/project documentation phase we identify factors promoting or hindering the effect and efficiency (costs, time) of different forms of planning procedures. Furthermore, we will investigate the long-term effects of these planning procedures; (b) the main focus lies on the experimental phase, which has the aim to identify the significance of given margins of negotiations for the success (effect and efficiency) of planning processes.

Task 3: Identifying the success factors for participatory planning processes and the adequate margin of negotiation offered to the local stakeholders.

This task will be reached with a literature search/project documentation phase and the experimental phase: In the literature search/project documentation phase two methods will be applied: semi-standardised interviews with involved stakeholders and the analysis of existing documents on these planning processes (plans and project descriptions, protocols, articles of newspapers). 5-6 case studies of a maximum variety of past planning processes will be selected. The planning processes encompass either projects of ecosystem enhancement or nature restoration projects. Also the interview partners will be selected according to the principle of maximum variety (Morse 1994; Patton 1990) and theoretical sampling (Strauss 1991). The qualitative interviews will be transcribed and analysed together with the documents according to the method of content analysis (Mayring 2003). In the experimental phase processes with a large margin of negotiation (e.g. consensus building) will be compared with processes of a low margin of negotiation (e.g. public hearing). The evaluation procedure includes a measurement of attitudes (e.g. “support for enhancement measures”) of all participants of the processes and a sample of the corresponding local populations before and after the process (populations only after diffusion time of 6 month after the completion of the process) by means of (quasi identical) standardized questionnaires. Furthermore, an observation of the process (documenting, short interviews) will be conducted. The questionnaire data will be analysed statistically, the documented observations and the transcribed short interviews will be analysed according to content analysis (Mayring 2003).