Evaluating rural participation in wetland management: a contingent valuation analysis of the set-aside policy in Iran

Hamed Eskandari-Damaneh, Hossein Noroozi, Emran Taheri-Reykandeh, Omid Ghoochani, Matthew Cotton

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Growing conditions of water scarcity and population growth necessitate measures for improved
water availability to meet agricultural, industrial, and domestic and consumer water demands;
generating new environmental pressures on wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems. In Iran, the
“set-aside program” incentivizes farmer participation in wetland conservation through
mandated land management practices, making them key stakeholders in environmental
conservation action. This study explores attitudes to participation in the set-aside wetland
conservation program to revive the Jazmurian wetland in Iran, using a random sample of 226
farmer-stakeholder respondents. Farmers were surveyed to investigate economic and social
participation using a willingness to accept (WTA) and willingness to pay (in money per ha)
(WTP) model. Results show strong (45%) respondent opposition to wetland conservation
participation. On the basis of their WTA, the amount of compensation offered by the villagers
was significantly affected by “the cultivated area”, “gender”, “education”, “family size”,
“residency”, “income”, “moralism”, and “Inverse Mills Ratio index” factors. Also, “the
cultivated area”, “age”, “education”, “marital status”, “family size”, and “income” were found
to be significantly affecting their WTP. We argue firstly, that policies to improve wetland
conservation must join together infrastructure and agricultural development planning – such
that dam projects, agricultural and water conservation planning are better integrated across
wetland catchments. Secondly, that wetland conservation participation will be improved
through land consolidation agreements for small-holders, and through incomes stabilisation,
capacity building, social learning and awareness-raising initiatives for farmers towards
sustainable agricultural practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number141127
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2020


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