Lately, Japan has witnessed a growing social concern regarding the conservation of the Satoyama forest. People are now focusing on the various means to support volunteer activities for the conservation of forests. The current volunteer activities in Satoyama forest are restricted by two major problems: shortage of human resources for volunteer work and poor financial support.
For solving these problems, we need to support the activities of the voluntary organizations to enable them to hire trained forest officials, recruit volunteers who can continually participate in the conservation activities, and secure stable independent revenue sources needed for sustainable organizational operation. In this article, we, therefore, clarify the perceptions and values of the Satoyama forest as evaluated by the citizens who reside in the vicinity of this forest by the contingent valuation method (CVM). We also explore the possibilities to solve the above two problems. In this study, we planned to investigate the residents' willingness to pay (WTP) and willingness to work (WTW) for conserving the Satoyama forest through a questionnaire survey.
A subject of evaluation in this study is the "Kannon Forest" (about 20ha) located in hamlet of Okunaka, Naka town, Hyogo prefecture, Japan.
The perceptions and values of the Satoyama forest for the residents living around the Kannon forest were determined by the following three steps. First, we examined the residents' evaluation of the values of the Kannon forest. Second, we assessed the respondents' WTW and the factors involved in it, which were relative to the Kannon forest. Finally, on the basis of the sample data, we estimated the WTP and WTW of the population with regard to the Kannon forest. Moreover, we compared the estimated values of the WTP and the WTW with the past records of annual accounts of the voluntary organization and a volunteer labor quantity.
The results are summarized as follows:
(1) The grouped regression model of WTP shows that the WTP for Satoyama conservation is defined by the following three determinants: (a) the household capacity to pay, (b) the recreational value of the Satoyama forest, and (c) the individual's sense of belonging to the town of Naka. On the other hand, the negative binomial regression model of WTW shows that the WTW for Satoyama conservation is regulated by the following four determinants: (d) the willingness to participate in a community activity, (e) the domestic financial capability and time to engage in voluntary work, (f) knowledge level of the Kannon forest, and (g) experience in visiting the Kannon forest. In terms of geographical perspectives, it must be noted that the values assigned to the conservation of the Kannon forest by an individual is especially influenced by the individual's sense of belonging to a society and his or her previous experience in visiting the forest, which does not merely involve covering the distance between the house and the forest.
(2) The WTP clearly indicates that all the residents around the Kannon forest are willing to pay a sum that totals to approximately 79 million yen over a decade for the maintenance of the forest. At the same time, WTW reveals that all the residents around the Kannon forest are also willing to work for a total of 25 thousand working days a year for its maintenance.
(3) When we consider the appeal for forest funds and recruit volunteers for the maintenance of the Satoyama forest, we recognized that the residents' responses (WTP or WTW) are defined by their perception of the functions of the Kannon forest; they are not affected by their residential and socioeconomic conditions.