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Worth of watersheds: a producer surplus approach for valuing drought mitigation in Eastern Indonesia

    • Published online: 15 January 2001

This study combines hydrological modeling with applied micro-econometric techniques to value a complex ecosystem service: drought mitigation provided by tropical forested watersheds to agrarian communities. Spatial variation in current baseflow allows estimation of drought mitigation values as the marginal profit accruing to agricultural households. The paper shows that this uncommon focus on producer (not consumer) surplus measures is appropriate for valuation as long as markets for commodities related to the environmental services are complete. For the typical household, the estimated marginal profit is positive, validating the central hypothesis that baseflow makes positive contributions to agricultural profits. There is some evidence, however, that increased watershed protection will increase profits through greater baseflow only in watersheds with a unique mix of physio-graphic and climatic features. The paper evaluates and provides some support for the hypothesis, put forward by hydrological science and the Indonesian Government, that protected watersheds can supply latent and unrecognized ecosystem services to local people.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge insightful comments from Erin Sills, Kerry Smith, and two anonymous reviewers. Suggestions from seminar participants at Camp Resources IV (Wilmington, NC), 1997 AERE Workshop (Annapolis, MD), Binghamton University, Rutgers University, Research Triangle Institute, University of Louvain (Belgium), and 1998 AAEA Meetings (Salt Lake City, UT) were also greatly appreciated. Field support from Frans Dabukke, Aris Priyanto, Nining N.P., Sastrawan Manullang, Leo Lega, Bill Buffum and student interviewers was invaluable. Data for this paper are drawn from a larger project funded by the Asian Development Bank, the Government of Indonesia, Duke University, the Howard Gilman Foundation and the Joshua Trent Foundation.
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Environment and Development Economics
  • ISSN: 1355-770X
  • EISSN: 1469-4395
  • URL: /core/journals/environment-and-development-economics
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