Project 12.3 'Relative social and economic values of residents and tourists in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area'

Project 12.3 'Relative social and economic values of residents and tourists in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area'

This project will fill critical information gaps about the relative importance of key attributes (or ‘values’) associated with the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to a variety of different stakeholders and about the way in which those ‘values’ might be effected by a range of external influences (e.g. different types of economic development, increases in population, changes in the mix of visitors). It will also fill a critical methodological gap – testing and refining both ‘traditional’ and state-of-the art techniques for generating estimates of the relative importance of those ‘values’.

More specifically, the project will:

  • Improve our understanding of the relative importance or ‘value’ of the key environmental attributes of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (that include, but are not limited to aesthetic and biodiversity values) to different stakeholders (e.g. Tourists, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Residents, the owners of different types of businesses).
  • Allow researchers to make predictions about the way in which resident and tourist ‘values’ and thus management, conservation and marketing priorities may alter in the future as both population and tourist numbers change.
  • Improve methods for assessing ‘values’. This project will compare state-of-the art non-monetary valuation techniques with more ‘traditional’ valuation techniques highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each. As such, the project is likely to make a substantial contribution to the valuation literature, and will provide mangers throughout the world with an illustrated, easy to understand, example of a cost-effective, robust, and equitable means of assessing the relative value (or importance) of non-market goods and services (such as aesthetics).

Project outputs at a glance – Year 1

By the end of the first year of the project, researchers will have:

  • Worked alongside other members of the social and economic coordination group as well as with staff at WTMA, Terrain, and members of key tourism organisations (listed on page one) to (a) identify and characterize core attributes (or ‘values’) of the WTWHA for assessment; and (b) identify and characterize other ‘values’ (e.g. development of roads, employment or income) to be compared with those core attributes, so that managers are able to assess trade-offs between WTWHA and other ‘values’;
  • Used information from the process outlined above to develop an effective survey instrument for (a) measuring the relative value of core attributes of the WTWHA; and (b) comparing those values with other monetary and non-monetary ‘values’ which decision makers often need to consider; and
  • Developed an effective, scientifically robust, sampling strategy for ensuring that information is collected from a range of key stakeholders.

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Final Report

How ‘valuable’ are the ecosystem services of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to residents and tourists?

Project Factsheet

Result Factsheet

Relative social & economic values of residents & tourists in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA) - Progress to March 2014


Link to the Project 12.3 homepage on e-Atlas


Project Duration: 
1 Aug 2011 to 31 Dec 2014


Project People