Geographical Review of Japan
Online ISSN : 2185-1727
Print ISSN : 1347-9555
ISSN-L : 1347-9555
Evaluating the Economic Benefits of a Terraced Rice Paddy Landscape Using the Contingent Valuation Method
A Case Study of Yusuhara Town, Kochi Prefecture, Japan
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2002 Volume 75 Issue 4 Pages 195-210


The aim of this paper is to analyze the economic value of a terraced rice paddy landscape, a typical Japanese rural landscape, using the contingent valuation method (CVM) and to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a project to conserve the landscape. The CVM involves estimating the economic benefits of public goods by surveying people's willingness-to-pay (WTP) for a project to conserve the goods. The goods to be valued in this study are the rice paddy terrace landscape (2.1 ha) of Kanzaiko hamlet, Yusuhara town, during the 2001-2020 Japanese fiscal year. We call it L for simplicity. The CVM survey was conducted from September to October 2000. The subjects of the survey were all heads of households in Yusuhara.
The results of CVM application to L are as follows:
(1) The monetary value of L is about 28-48 million yen.
(2) WTP for the project depends on the aesthetic and materialistic sense of value of the local inhabitants for L, and the ability of the household economy to pay. Moreover, the household's WTP declines as the household's location becomes further from the Kanzaiko area. This corresponds to the distance decay property of the external economic effect of public services.
(3) On the basis of CVM, the balance between the estimated benefit and the estimated cost of a local government project to preserve the rice paddy terrace will not be reached in the short term. Therefore, we need to carry out a long-range plan based on the concept of the bequest value of conserving the landscape.
Then, if we apply these results as an objective indicator to political actions, we need to pay sufficient attention to the following:
(1) If we are going to make a financial investment in L, we must take into account the space and time limitations of public goods. Because of the distance decay effect, the local inhabitants should coordinate the loadings of the investment in accordance with their distance from the Kanzaiko area.
(2) It is important to note the detailed contents of CVM: scenarios; the scope of valuation of benefits; the spatial scale concerning costs; and the prerequisite conditions of the subject of evaluation. In particular, we should subsequently consider carefully how to value the landscape for the people living outside the area and how to share the cost loadings between the inhabitants and other people.

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