Environment and Development Economics

Policy Options

Valuing mangrove resources in Kosrae, Micronesia

a1 Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Institute for International Studies, Encina Hall, E405, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. 94305-6055 USA. Tel: 650–723-5697, Fax: 650–725-1992, Email: roz@leland.stanford.edu.


Mangrove ecosystems provide a wide range of market and non-market benefits to coastal communities in the developing world, yet they remain undervalued and overexploited in most regions where they are found. This paper analyzes the use and value of mangroves in Kosrae, Micronesia, where the population is largely dependent on the swamps for fuelwood and other ecosystem services, such as erosion control, storm protection, and nutrient flows to shoreline fisheries. The results show that mangroves on the island are worth between $666 thousand and $1 million per year (1996 prices) based on the net value of marketable products alone. In addition, household survey data suggest that the local people are willing to pay between $1 million and $1.26 million per year to protect and use mangrove swamps indefinitely. The results thus indicate that the population places some premium on the existence and indirect ecosystem services of mangroves, over and above the direct use values. Moreover, respondents generally favored—and were willing to pay more for—a tax system designed to manage and preserve the mangroves' direct and indirect services over a permit system focused only the allocation of direct use over time. Valuation analyses using revealed preference and contingent valuation methods lead to additional conclusions regarding the distribution of benefits, with poor households deriving more direct benefits from—but willing to pay less to protect—mangrove ecosystems.


1 Senior Research Scholar and Social Science Research Assistant, respectively, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University. The authors wish to thank the Pew Charitable Trusts for funding the research through the Pew Fellows Program; Katherine Ewel for helping to initiate and design the research; Tara Tara and Paliksru Brooks for assisting in translation of the survey; Walter Falcon, Donald Kennedy, Lawrence Goulder, Geoffrey Heal, Katherine Ewel, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts; and the USDA Forest Service and the Kosrae Department of Agriculture and Land for logistical support. The usual disclaimers apply.