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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Conservation of disappearing cultural landscape's biodiversity: are people in Belarus willing to pay for wet grassland restoration?

Valasiuk, Sviataslau; Giergiczny, Marek; Zylicz, Tomasz; Klimkowska, Agata; Angelstam, Per


Abandonment of traditional farming practices, such as hay-making and pasturing, has resulted in rapid loss of open wet grassland habitats in Europe. The globally threatened Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola L.) is a bird species that occurs almost exclusively in open fen mires, which have virtually disappeared in Western Europe, but still persist locally in Eastern Europe. Focusing on the world's most important breeding site for Aquatic Warbler, the Zvaniec fen mire in Belarus, we estimated Belarusian citizens' willingness-to-pay for adequate conservation management of this fen mire and its focal species the Aquatic Warbler. Results from a discrete choice experiment indicated that Belarusian citizens were willing to pay for appropriate conservation programmes of the Zvaniec fen mire. Scything and mechanical mowing were preferred compared to controlled burning, and especially over herbicide treatment of encroaching shrubs. Conservation management was preferred over legal protection of wetland areas without management. Respondents considered such passive conservation to be insufficient to maintain open fen mire habitat and gave a higher priority to active conservation management programmes. These preferences are consistent with evidence-based knowledge about what is effective conservation management for the Aquatic Warbler. Given the gradual disappearance of Europe's traditional cultural landscapes, we discuss the challenge to fund the maintenance of this biocultural biodiversity legacy.


Aquatic warbler; Open fen mires; Active conservation management; Willingness-to-pay; Discrete choice experiment

Published in

Wetlands Ecology and Management
2018, Volume: 26, number: 5, pages: 943-960
Publisher: SPRINGER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

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