Harnessing Nature’s Benefits:
Problems and Prospects for
Recognising the Wider Value of
Regional Tourist Economies
Cheryl Willis – PhD Candidate
Centre for Sport, Leisure and Tourism Research
ESRC CASE studentship held jointly by Geography, College of Life and
Environmental Science and Politics, College of Social Sciences and
International Studies
Supported by Dorset County Council
• Context and Background
• Purpose and Scope of Research
• Environmental Valuation
•Techniques, limitations and alternatives
• Conceptual Frameworks
•Ecosystem Services
• Policy Relevance of a wellbeing approach
• Aims and Objectives
• Proposed Methodology
• Conclusion
Context and Background
‘A rational process for assessment of
environmental policy options should be based
on an appreciation of how humans value
nature’ (Lockwood, 1999 p381)
Purpose and Scope of Research
To explore how an understanding of these
intangible values of nature and their
contribution to subjective wellbeing can
broaden and deepen our understanding of
how people value the natural environment in
an important tourist area.
Environmental Valuation
An Overview
• Value concepts
• Two approaches dominate the literature:
•Neo-classical economic approach
•Philosophical /perceptual approach
Monetary Techniques for valuing
the environment
• Stated Preference methods
• Revealed preference methods
Limitations of Monetary
‘The environment is a site of conflict between
competing values and interests and the
institutions and communities that articulate
those values and interests. These cannot be
reduced to a single measure, whether monetary
or otherwise’ (O’Neill, 2007 p26)
Perceptual Approaches to
Valuing the Environment
‘What is it that renders one person’s muddy
little cove another person’s inestimably
valued and prized childhood vacation spot?’
(Craik, 1986 p55)
Conceptual Frameworks
Ecosystem Services
• Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identified 4
broad types of ecosystem services.
• Cultural Services:
‘‘The non-material benefits people obtain from
ecosystems through spiritual enrichment,
cognitive development, reflection, recreation and
aesthetic experience’ (MA, NEA)
Conceptual Framework
•Classified into two broad categories:
Objective - observable measures
Subjective – hedonism
(Ryan & Deci, 2001)
A Wellbeing Perspective to
Environmental Valuation
Multi-faceted concept which is difficult to define
and measure
Provides an innovative way to conceptualise the
ways in which the natural environment has worth for
Policy Relevance of Subjective Wellbeing
•Provides a useful and innovative approach to
policy appraisal
• Establishes the person as the central policy focus
• Understanding human needs will help to most
efficiently provide opportunities to fulfil those
Gaining momentum in Policy Arenas
• ‘The issue of wellbeing lies at the heart of
sustainable development and it remains
important to develop appropriate wellbeing
indicators’ (Securing the Future: the UK Government
Sustainable Development Strategy, 2005 p23)
• ‘The time is ripe for our measurement system
to shift emphasis from measuring economic
production to measuring people’s wellbeing’
(Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic
Performance and Social Progress, 2009 p12)
Gaining momentum in Policy Arenas
‘Our natural environment underpins our economic prosperity,
our health and our wellbeing. Our land, seas, rivers, woods
and fields, parks and open spaces provide us with benefits so
fundamental that they are often overlooked. These natural
assets have an enormous collective value. The more we
understand about the natural world, the more we realise that
it supports us in ways which may not always be visible but
which have a very real value’
(Defra July 2010, discussion document to feed into the White Paper on the
Natural Environment due Spring 2011)
Wellbeing – An Innovative Approach to
Policy Assessment
Policy Change
Impacts in
Impacts on
human wellbeing
Value of changes
in ecosystem
services in
wellbeing terms
Measuring Subjective Wellbeing
• Measures of Physical benefit
• Measures of psychological benefit
• Human Needs Approach
The Needs and Satisfiers Matrix
Human Needs
Ways in which perceptions and experiences of nature contributes to
the satisfaction of needs
(Max-Neef, 1992)
Framework for Assessing the
Contribution of the Natural
Environment to Subjective Wellbeing
Cultural Services
Human Needs
• Physical setting
• Activities
• Experiences
• Cognitive
• Aesthetic
• Spiritual enrichment
• Reflection
• Recreation
• Subsistence
• Protection
• Affection
• Understanding
• Participation
• Leisure
• Creation
• Identity
• Freedom
Research Aims
The research will explore the ways in which
people experience and value the natural
environment in an important tourist area and
how interactions with it contribute to their
perceived wellbeing.
It will seek to address how this information can
effectively be incorporated into policy decisions
about tourism and natural resource management
in Dorset’s coastal areas.
1. To characterise the relationship between Dorset’s
coastal areas and the perceived wellbeing benefits of
visitors to these areas
2. To assess the extent to which subjective wellbeing can
be used as an effective decision-support tool to assess
the impact of different policy options and changes in the
3. To assess how an understanding of cultural ecosystem
services and subjective wellbeing contributes to the
wider debates on environmental valuation and to an
appreciation of tourists’ motivations for visiting Dorset’s
coastal areas
Case Study Areas
Objective 1:
•150 on-site surveys at each case study location
This will largely be based around an adaptation
of the Human-Scale Development Matrix to
ascertain what human needs are satisfied by
recreating in coastal areas
• 10 in-depth interviews at each case study site
Objective 2:
•1 focus group at each case study site
This will use the adapted Human-Scale
Development Matrix as a participatory tool to
assess social values and to determine how
wellbeing might be affected by changes in the
Objective 3: To assess how an understanding of cultural ecosystem services
and subjective wellbeing contributes to the wider debates on environmental
valuation and to an appreciation of tourists’ motivations for visiting Dorset’s
coastal areas.
• Analysis of surveys and interviews to explore how intangible
benefits of nature contribute to tourists’ motivations for
visiting the area or similar areas.
•Data collection from Dorset to assess how ideas of wellbeing
can enrich economic data already collected in Dorset
•Synthesis of ideas and reflections
Concluding Remarks
‘Natural resources are not only raw materials
to be inventoried and moulded into a
recreation opportunity, but also, and more
important, places with histories, places that
people care about, places that for many
people embody a sense of belonging and
purpose that give meaning to life’ (Williams et
al, 1992, p44).
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Harnessing Nature`s Benefits