Different cultures, different values: The role of cultural variation in public's WTP for marine species conservation

Adriana Ressurreição*, James Gibbons, Michel Kaiser, Tomaz Ponce Dentinho, Tomasz Zarzycki, Charlotte Bentley, Melanie Austen, Daryl Burdon, Jonathan Atkins, Ricardo S. Santos, Gareth Edwards-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the cultural variation in public preference for marine species is a necessary pre-requisite if conservation objectives are to include societal preferences in addition to scientific considerations. We report the results of a contingent study undertaken at three case-study sites: Azores islands (Portugal), Gulf of Gdansk (Poland) and Isles of Scilly (UK). The study considered species richness of five specific marine taxa (mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates and algae) as proxies of marine biodiversity and the aim of analysis was to estimate from a multi-site perspective public's willingness to pay (WTP) to avoid increased levels of species loss (reduction of species richness) for different marine taxa. Results, based on 1502 face-to-face interviews, showed that income, education and environmental awareness of the respondents were significant predictors of WTP for marine species conservation. Results also indicated that respondents in each of the European locations had different preferences for marine taxa. In the Azores, although mammals and fish were valued highly, small differences occurred in the WTP among different taxa. Respondents in the Isles of Scilly put a relatively low value on fish while algae and marine mammals were highly valued. In Gdansk, respondents defined a clear order of preference for marine mammals > fish > birds > invertebrates and algae. These findings suggested that cultural differences may be important drivers of valuation and undermines the commonly held premise that charismatic/likeable taxa consistently have a disproportionately strong influence on WTP for biodiversity conservation. We conclude that conservation policy must take account of cultural diversity alongside biological diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-159
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Biodiversity loss
  • Contingent valuation
  • Marine biodiversity
  • Multi-site study
  • Payment card
  • Willingness to pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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