The Amenity Value of Wetlands



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Wetlands provide recreation and cultural values including scenic views, aesthetics, open-spaces, and leisure opportunities to surrounding residents. This study applies a hedonic approach to estimate the impact of wetland amenities on nearby single family homes using actual sales prices of properties from 1991 to 2005 in Chatham County, Georgia, where wetland resources are unevenly distributed in terms of types and quantities of wetlands. Separate hedonic models are investigated to understand the spatial variation of wetland amenity effects across different study areas in Chatham County. This study finds that wetland amenity values vary mainly with the characteristics of study location. In a rural setting where wetland resources are ample and sufficient. Wetland amenities have negative impacts on the sales price of nearby single family homes. Forested wetlands, the size of the nearest wetland, and wetland proximity negatively impact the sales price of the properties. In an urban setting where wetland resources are extremely limited, wetlands have significant positive amenity effects. The size of the nearest wetland positively impact the sales price of nearby single family homes, but type of wetlands turns into insignificant. In a suburban area with diverse wetland recourses in term of types of wetlands, mixed amenity effects are found. In general immediate access to a wetland, especially a large size one, positively impact nearby single family homes. Type of wetlands plays a key role in deciding the direction and magnitude of wetland amenity effects in a suburban area. The findings of the study suggest that policy makers need to think about both the characteristics of wetlands and their spatial context when providing or protecting wetland amenities.