Marine recreational ecosystem service value estimation: A meta-analysis with cultural considerations

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2-16-2018


Marine and coastal ecosystems provide a wide variety of recreational opportunities that are highly valued by society. For the purposes of conducting a meta-analysis we build an extensive global dataset of marine recreational ecosystem service values from the literature. Using this database we developed a number of meta-regression specifications with the objective of evaluating the study specific effects of location, ecosystem, valuation methodology and statistical estimation methods on the reported value estimates. Furthermore, the paper investigates if cultural differences between studies are an important determinant that should be considered in international (meta-analytical) value transfer. This was achieved by including a number of cultural parameters from previous societal studies and surveys into our meta-regression models. We found that accounting for differences in cultural dimensions across recreation valuation studies had a significant influence on value estimates. While a multi-level modelling approach that controls for study effects, proved to be a better fit than a standard one level specification, we found that the absolute in-sample transfer errors associated with the standard OLS model were slightly less on average based on the differences between the actual and predicted values in our meta-database.


This paper was co-authored by Dr. Stephen Hynes and Heidi Williams MAIEP OCRM ’16 and uses research and analysis that Heidi conducted during her 2015 CBE Summer Fellowship. Dr. Hynes is Director of SEMRU (Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit), part of the Whitaker Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is a natural resource and environmental economist, and served as a CBE Visiting Scholar in 2012-2013, and currently serves as an Editorial Board Member for Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics. During her time as a CBE Summer Fellow working with Dr. Hynes on this project, Heidi used benefit transfer methods to estimate the non-market values of marine recreation pursuits in Irish coasts and created GIS (Graphic Information System) maps to quantify the ecosystem service benefit values. She is currently employed as a NOAA California Sea Grant Fellow, working with the Delta Science Program in their Water Supply Adaptive Management and Communications Unit.