Title: Recreational value of regional forests: the case of Belgium's Walloon region

Authors: Vincent Colson; Philippe Lejeune; Jacques Rondeux; Bertrand Hamaide

Addresses: Cellule d'Appui à la Petite Forêt Privée, Office Economique Wallon du Bois, 5A, rue A. Feher, 6900 Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium ' Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Université de Liège, 2, Passage des Déportés, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium ' Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Université de Liège, 2, Passage des Déportés, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium ' CEREC – Department of Economics, Université Saint-Louis, Brussels, 43 boulevard du jardin botanique, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Abstract: The Walloon forest, which is geographically close to densely populated areas of Atlantic Europe, fulfils an important recreational function. Two surveys were set up, among which a large-scale statistical survey in 40 woodlands, distributed throughout the Walloon forest and resulting in over 4,000 questionnaires collected. These give information about the recreational activities carried out in the forest, which helps determine the unit value of visits. The regional value is based on the estimated number of visits annually for the total woodlands. Contingent valuation is used to estimate recreational values for this data set comprising the whole regional level with heterogeneous visits and comparisons with other methods and other hypotheses are undertaken. Although the valuation varies depending on the method and the application modalities selected, it is very large and confirms the importance of this non-benefit service and the weight it could carry in terms of regional forest policy.

Keywords: recreational value; survey; willingness to pay; Wallonia; regional forests; Belgium; Walloon region; contingent valuation; forest policy.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2014.066774

International Journal of Sustainable Society, 2014 Vol.6 No.4, pp.319 - 335

Available online: 05 Jan 2015

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