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Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research

Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research

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Peer-reviewed publication

Residents’ preference and willingness to conserve homestead woodlands: Coastal villages in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Fukugi (Garcinia subelliptica Merr.) homestead woodlands spread through the Ryukyu Islands, the southernmost part of Japan. Homestead woodlands have played a key role in protecting settlements from strong winds, as well as providing timber, green manure, and other services. However, with rapid urbanization and economic and societal change, homestead woodlands in Japan have largely vanished.

The primary purpose of this study was to assess residents’ perceptions of homestead woodlands. The secondary purpose was to evaluate residents’ willingness to conserve homestead woodlands using the contingent valuation method (CVM).

A survey was conducted in three hamlets with the best-preserved Fukugi homestead woodlands in Okinawa Prefecture. The overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) favored the conservation of homestead woodlands. Residents highly valued the amelioration of the microclimate by homestead woodlands such as serving as windbreaks (85.6%) and cooling the air in summer (60.9%). In contrast, the contribution to biodiversity was only modestly (16.8%) valued. A hierarchical multiple regression model revealed that residents of small islands valued Fukugi trees highly for their function of protection from typhoons. Fukugi homestead woodlands were considered as private goods by the residents as well as by local authorities. Approximately half of the respondents felt that homeowners and/or a local authority such as the hamlet community should be responsible for their conservation. Estimated mean and median WTP values were JPY 1451 (approximately USD14)/household and JPY 1000/household, respectively. The low CV value by the residents and perception of woodlands as private property suggests a relatively low concern for conservation. A BLR model suggested that respondents with better education and higher income were more concerned about conservation. It is suggested that fostering environmental education and awareness will contribute to better conservation of their homestead woodlands. This research result provides information to local policy makers for coastal settlement landscape planning and conservation strategies.