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Monetary Valuations of Monumental Trees and Other Natural Resources between Demand for Conservation and Recent Requirements for Outdoor Activities: Some Case Studies in the Madonie and Nebrodi Regional Parks of Sicily


The focus of this paper is on the valuation of the benefits that local communities living in protected areas may perceive with regard to some specific natural resources, and in particular to Monumental Trees. The current economic crisis which involves countries at world level, leads to think that in the near future the financial resources to be destined for interventions in favour of these environmental goods will be more and more scarce, with the result that most monumental trees will not be protected and this natural heritage will be totally degraded and therefore lost to local communities. Three Sicilian case studies were investigated, two concerning the Madonie Regional Natural Park, and the third one referring to an area of the Nebrodi Regional Natural Park. The monetary valuation of these environmental goods was carried out by using the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM ), which belongs to the category of Direct Methods and of Expressed Preferences Method. For each of these case studies a survey was designed, identifying the targeted population from which to select a sample, from two to four different questionnaires were structured, with the description of the current and proposed supply of these environmental goods, where a suitable payment vehicle for the bids (expressed as Willingness to Pay, WTP) was chosen, where WTP elicitation “open” and “payment card” formats were used. A pre-testing of the CVM survey was carried out in order to check the questionnaire as to timing, flow of the questions, ease of understanding and delivery, and to identify any specific problem areas. The three CVM final surveys have the ultimate aim of estimating average and median WTPs expressed by local resident households and day-trippers to purchase the qualitative improvement of monumental trees supply and the additional services offered in the surrounding scenario of nature trails.