This book, written jointly with my graduate students, is about the asset values of numerous Kamloops parks and the annual flow of ecosystem services they provide to the community. The book evolved from a graduate course I started teaching unexpectedly last year in the Masters of Science in Environmental Economics and Management at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia. The course is entitled Valuation Methods for Cost-Benefit Analysis and builds on the Foundations of Cost-Benefit Analysis course. In this course, students explore advanced techniques to assess impacts and methods to place a value on non-market goods and services (i.e., nature). Valuation methods include benefits transfer, experimental design, contingent valuation, direct market estimation including defensive expenditures, travel cost, and shadow pricing.
Undertaking a graduate course required much preparation to find relevant, interesting, contemporary, and seminal peer-reviewed articles for my students to read, critique, and discuss. I am an accidental environmental economist, and non-market valuation of the natural environment is not my main research focus.
However, three colleagues from Thompson Rivers University and I published a research paper in 2008 exploring the factors underlying public support and willingness to pay to preserve the agricultural land reserve (ALR) in British Columbia (Androkovich et al., 2008). The ALR, established in 1973, encompasses 4.76 million hectares. The reserve aims to preserve agricultural land for farm use and to establish and maintain family farm businesses (Land Commission Act, section 7). We distributed a contingent valuation survey to elicit peoples’ preferences towards preservation across the province. After analyzing 267 surveys, we found that British Columbians place not only importance “to ensure that local food production is maintained” and “the economic importance of the British Columbia’s agriculture sector,” but equally important was “to protect the environment.” which makes sense since most of the ALR is in northern rural areas of the province. Provincewide, people were willing to pay to maintain the land reserve, with a conservative estimate being Can$91.18 million per year. A critique of introducing Bill 24 for the ALR can be found in Tsigaris (2014).
My interest in exploring urban parks and assigning this project to my students arose when I found a fascinating article written by Sutton and Anderson (2016). Sutton and Anderson placed a value on the iconic New York Central Park and its ecosystem services. A real estate appraisal firm assessed the 341 ha park at $500 billion as an opportunity cost of the land not being developed. Sutton and Anderson assumed a 5% yield from the asset, thus providing annual ecosystem services worth $25 billion per year to the community. This valuation is very high relative to Costanza et al. (2014) because it attempts to account for the interaction of social, natural, human, and built capital in an urban park. The value is not to commodify the park but to measure a form of capital preserved for the benefit of its people and the city’s lungs.
I asked my students to conduct a similar analysis by selecting a Kamloops park and writing a chapter in this book about the park’s value. However, instead of consulting with a real estate appraisal firm, my students collected numerous land values adjacent to their park to assess the value of the park since the land value represents the opportunity cost of not developing the park into a residential area. They submitted many drafts to me for review before being accepted for publication in the book. This review process improves their research and the final output (Tsigaris, 2021).
I gave this assignment last year as well. One of the best papers last year was by Jake Truscott, who worked with me collaboratively to refine the method and results on the valuation of the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, which is in the rural-urban fringe of Kamloops and is considered the largest urban park in Britsh Columbia. A snapshot of this research is described in Chapter 3 of this book and has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Rural and Community Development. I hope you will find the book fascinating, and it will help other municipalities assess and value their natural assets.
Androkovich, R, I. Desjardin, G. Tarzwell and P. Tsigaris, (2008), “Land Preservation in British Columbia: An Empirical Analysis of the Factors Underlying Public Support and Willingness to Pay,” Journal of Agriculture and Applied Economics, 40(3): 999-1013. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1074070800002479
Costanza, R., De Groot, R., Sutton, P., Van der Ploeg, S., Anderson, S. J., Kubiszewski, I., … & Turner, R. K. (2014). Changes in the global value of ecosystem services. Global environmental change, 26, 152-158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.04.002
Sutton, P. C., & Anderson, S. J. (2016). Holistic valuation of urban ecosystem services in New York City’s Central Park. Ecosystem Services, 19, 87-91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.06.001
Truscott, J. and P. Tsigaris, (forthcoming), Assessing the Value of a Park in a Rural–Urban FringeZone: A Case Study of Kenna Cartwright Nature Park in the Interior of British Columbia, Journal of Rural and Community Development
Tsigaris, (2014), British Columbians willing to pay more tax to stop the development of ALR, research shows, Armchair Mayor website at https://armchairmayor.ca/2014/04/26/british-columbians-willing-to-pay-more-tax-to-stop-development-of-alr-research-shows/
Tsigaris P (2021) Formalized Journal-Style Review Process: Improving the Quality of Students’ Work. Front. Educ. 6:701978. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2021.701978