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Multifunctional recreation and nouveau heritage values in plantation forests
Recreation benefits constitute a substantial part of the total economic value of forests in modern societies, and are an increasingly important determinant in multi-functional forest management. Heritage sites, such as historic buildings open to visitation, are important parts of some recreation experiences, yet people who do not visit may also view their protection as important. However, few studies have examined the importance of heritage sites as part of the recreational experience or tried to compare their importance for recreational users versus the general public, even though these issues are central to management decisions. In this study, a choice modelling experiment was conducted in Australia to estimate the marginal values for improvements in recreation facilities (trails, day and night facilities) and historic sites in State plantation forests. The aim of the study was to examine the relative importance of historic sites as an attribute of forest recreation, and explore preference heterogeneity for various attributes of forest recreation across different forest areas and forest users. The results indicate that while there was significant preference heterogeneity for the different recreational attributes at two forest areas, there was less variation in the welfare estimates across attributes, sites and between user and non-user groups. Similar values were identified for the Heritage sites between recreational users and non-users, indicating that protection values were dominant over recreational use; yet no sub-group of the sampled population appeared to value Heritage sites in isolation from recreational assets, suggesting that respondents viewed the forests in multifunctional dimensions.