Soil erosion produces both on-site private costs and off-site social costs, such as desertification, rural depopulation, siltation of waterways and reductions in biodiversity. To design efficient policies, land use planners and decision makers need information on the relative weights of changes in these consequences, since policy alternatives, such as different management restrictions, will have varying impacts on these consequences of erosion. The research presented here uses the choice experiment method to evaluate these relative weights, using a case study in the Alto Genil and Guadajoz watersheds in southern Spain. We find that reductions in desertification, protection of water quality, protection of biodiversity, the area covered by the scheme, and the number of rural jobs safeguarded are all significant determinants of preferences over alternative policy designs.
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