ENVIRONMENTAL VALUATION ESSAY
This assignment requires you to consider the issue of environmental valuation and think of an appropriate method that can be employed to place values on these goods and services. Unlike most exercises that recommend a review of existing literature on previous studies on the matter, this assignment offers an opportunity for you to think on your own for creating such a technique. You are encouraged to think freely about the subject matter and be creative with your proposals.
10% of the total marks for the course
Between 750 to 1,000 words. It is necessary that you stay within this word limit. On the top of your paper make sure you write down your word count.
Due Date: Friday22ndApril 2016 by 5pm
There will be a deduction of one percentage point (i.e., one of the 10 marks allocated for the essay) for each day after the due date.
It is required that you submit this assignment in order to obtain a passing grade for this course.
Use font size 12, double spaced.
Separate your paper into separate sections:
A. Environmental Scenario
B. Valuation Technique
C. Discussion and Conclusion
You can find additional information in the template provided below.
When you have completed your assignment as a Word file on your own computer, upload it to Blackboard under the “Assessment” tab. There will be a link which you can click to upload your document via ‘Turnitin’.
Plagiarism: Ensure you have read the University’s policy on plagiarism
When submitting your essay on ‘Turnitin’ it will let you know the level of similarity your essay has with other sources before you confirm your submission.
Environmental Valuation Scenarios/ Examples:
Useone of the following examples for developing your valuation method.
1. A small patch of forest in your neighborhood is to be converted into residential buildings.
In deciding whether or not to undertake this project would require a formal cost benefit analysis. You need to take into account all the benefits and costs associated. The costs generally involve the cost of resources (land, labor, capital) related to cutting the trees, clearing the land for development, and then actually building the houses. The benefits would entail the value of the houses that are built and possibly the sale value of the timber from the trees cut down.
We discussed in class that there are other costs and benefits that result from the forest being removed. For example you can’t go walking or running in that forest anymore; so there is loss in recreational benefits. There is also a loss of natural beauty that the forest provided, habitat loss for various flora and fauna, as well as the loss of other ecosystem services. How do you think we should measure these losses in benefits? In order to conduct a cost benefit analysis these losses should be provided in monetary terms (what is the dollar value of the lost benefits?). What technique/s can you think of that can be used to place a dollar value on these losses?
Generally there are too many benefits, which make this exercise quite complicated. It may help if you decide to focus on just one or two of these benefits when coming up with your valuation technique.
2. Your neighborhood has very bad air quality. Is it worth cleaning it up? Remember, there is always a cost involved for these kinds of activities. For example the cost of enforcing laws that require reduced emission from cars, factories, etc. Then there is the added cost for the private sector to comply by these rules. Factories may have to purchase cleaner fuels which are more expensive, or buy emission reducing equipment.
Such intervention into the system should only be made if the benefit received from cleaner air is greater than the cost of cleaning it. How much benefit would society receive from cleaning up the air? How would you measure it?
3. There is a beautiful landscape in the West of Ireland that has resulted from many generations of traditional farming practices. Unfortunately this landscape is changing because farming is not profitable anymore, which is causing farmers to abandon farming. The result is a degraded landscape that is not picturesque as it used to be. The government is trying to reverse this trend by providing a subsidy to the farmers to encourage the maintenanceof this landscape. Every year millions of euros of tax revenue are spent by the government to pay farmers to do this. But is it worth it? Is it worth spending millions of dollars which could have been used for other purposes instead such as building new roads, schools, or spent on health care? How much benefit is there from maintaining this landscape? Is it worth millions? If the landscape were to degrade and look ugly, does it result in millions in lost value?How would you place a value on this traditional countryside landscape?
4. A species of Whale in the Pacific is in danger of going extinct. Should we protect it? But what is the value of protecting it? What kinds of benefit do we get, and how much is it worth?
5. Should we clean the trash up in Mt. Everest? Again, what is the benefit of doing so? You may want to identify who gets these benefits before you try to estimate how much benefit we get from a cleaner Mt. Everest.
Your Student ID:
Total Word Count:
Title of Your Essay: (Give your essay a catchy title)
Environmental Scenario/ Environmental Good or Service to Value:
Pick one of the environmental scenarios provided above. Start off by describing the environmental scenario with a brief overview of environmental goods and services that are not addressed by the market. You do not need to provide an exhaustive list of benefits here or provide too much detail on the types of benefits. Then specify exactly what environmental good and/or service you wish to assign a value to. With your technique, you may wish to assess a holistic value for the overall resource or focus only on one or two specific types of benefits derived from the resource. In the case of foregone benefits resulting from clearing forests for new housing developments, you may wish to focus on the benefits related to wildlife habitats, recreational benefits, scenic beauty, etc.
Economic Valuation Technique:
The bulk of your essay should focus on this part. Describe your proposed valuation technique and explain simply and clearly how it works. Provide details on what you as the valuation expert will have to do to achieve this. What information will you need to gather and how you will go about collecting it? How is this collected information utilized to arrive at a single dollar value for the benefit? You may wish to supplement your description with an example with made up numbers/ dollar values.
You may find that the technique you have developed is not able to capture the value of all types of benefits. For example, the same technique that captures the forest’s value in preventing soil erosion may not be useful for estimating recreational benefits. This is why it may be easier to focus only on one or two types of benefits.
Brief Discussion and Conclusion:
Finally, discuss your valuation technique by providing your own opinion. How reliable is it? How accurately do you think it can assign values? How easy and/or cheap is it to use this technique? What shortcomings are there and how can it be improved?
Remember! You should not consult any other sources for this exercise. I would like you to think about a potential environmental valuation technique on your own.
The assignment is graded according to content (the degree to which the assignment demonstrates creativity, understanding, and critical thought relevant to the topic, integrated into a coherent argument) and presentation (the quality of written communication and the use of acceptable conventions for layout).
The content of the assignment is graded according to the following criteria.
1 Assignment fails to demonstrate any relevant knowledge or understanding of the topic, or to link ideas in a systematic way.
2-3 Assignment demonstrates some relevant knowledge and understanding of the topic but fails to demonstrate much effort or creativity. Argument is poorly structured.
4 Assignment demonstrates sound knowledge and understanding of the topic and demonstrates some level of effort and creativity. Argument is adequately structured.
5 Assignment demonstrates a good understanding of the topic and demonstrates creativity. Argument is well structured.
6 As for 5 with the additional requirement that the assignment demonstrates some original thought, critical reflection, or synthesis.
7 Reserved for excellent work. As for 5 with the additional requirement that the Assignment demonstrates substantial original thought, critical reflection, or synthesis.
The presentation of the assignment is graded according to the following criteria.
1 Assignment is poorly written and presented (frequent errors, poor layout and presentation).
2 Assignment is adequately written and presented (occasional errors, reasonably clear use of language, reasonable attention to layout and presentation).
3 Assignment is well written and presented (very few or no errors, concise, appropriate and interesting use of language, well laid out and presented).
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