The term ‘recreation benefits’ covers benefits arising from the enjoyment of landscape, wildlife and natural amenities as well as from the enjoyment of recreational activities.
Recreation benefits are calculated by multiplying the € value of a visit for recreational use (often a small number), derived using the Contingent Valuation (CV) method, by the number of visits or beneficiaries (often a large number). The crucial stage in estimating recreational benefits is usually the estimation of the number of visits or beneficiaries.
The CV method (an ‘expressed preference’ method) is essentially a questionnaire survey method in which respondents are asked directly in carefully designed survey questions to say what value they place on, or how much they would be willing to pay (WTP) for, a change in the availability of a resource such as coastal or riverside recreation affected by flooding or a flood risk management scheme.
A particular variant of the CV method, the value of enjoyment per adult visit (VOE) method, is to be preferred. In this approach, respondents are asked to say what value they put on their enjoyment of a day’s visit under varying options in € and cents or £ and pence.
In the WTP approach, respondents are asked how much they would be willing to pay in entrance fees or in rates and taxes for a change in recreation opportunities/values such as provided by a coastal flood protection scheme. The advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches have been debated but the VOE approach remains the recommended method and the basis for the standard data presented here (for this rationale see Penning-Rowsell et al., 2013).