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How Willing Are Households To Increase Urban Forests To Mitigate Climate Change?

By Conni Kunzler | October 2, 2017

Source: Y. Tran; J. P. Siry; J. M. Bowker; N. C. Poudyal, “Atlanta households’ willingness to increase urban forests to mitigate climate change,” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

Athens, GA (February 10, 2017) – Investments in urban forests have been increasing in many U.S. cities because of the many ecosystem benefits of trees. But what about when it comes to climate change? How willing are residents to support and pay for urban forests as a climate change mitigation method?

Individual groups within the American public may not respond to the issue of climate change in the same way, thus engaging each group in climate change solutions will require different approaches.

So it’s important to understand how the public perceives climate change, their values and preferences, and barriers that might constrain their engagement to policy solutions. To assess this, researchers used a mail survey, focused on households’ willingness to support and pay for urban forests as a climate change mitigation method, and sent it to selected households in Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta was selected for this study given its environmental issues such as heat island effect and land cover changes, including conversion of forestland, that come with rapid population growth and urban sprawl. A Tobit model was used to model willingness-to-pay as a function of several variables derived from survey results; and a multivariate weighting strategy was used to address nonresponse issues.

The analysis showed that Atlanta households are willing to pay $1.05 million to $1.22 million per year, or $5.24 to $6.11 million over a five-year period. The WTP amount was significantly related with the residents’ income, media source from where they received climate information, and the relative coverage of tree canopy around their residence.

Results are relevant to city managers who are interested in understanding the public value of urban greening programs and developing strategies or policies to expand urban forests as part of a climate change strategy.

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