Assessing the ecosystem service values of tea plantations using conventional and organic farming methods: Is organic farming always better?

Wan Yu Liu, Che Yu Chiang, Jia Ler Yap, Chun Cheng Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Low-elevation mountainous (LEM) areas in some countries are reclaimed for agriculture (especially, for deep cultivation of tea trees) due to their accessibility, higher temperature, and more rainfall, contributing to biodiversity and ecological balance. However, extensive development in these areas causes lasting ecological damage; and hence it is crucial to evaluate the ecological value of these areas for formulating relevant ecological protection policies. Therefore, this study evaluated the ecosystem service value of tea plantations in LEM areas using the contingent valuation method based on the subjective consciousness of farmers, rather than an objective assessment. A questionnaire survey was conducted on tea farmers in Mingjian Township (which is one of the major tea-producing LEM areas in Mid-Taiwan); and ecosystem service values of tea plantations between conventional farming methods (CFMs) and organic farming methods (OFMs) were compared. Firstly, the differences in willingness to pay (WTP) for the samples including and excluding protest responses were investigated, and then a regression analysis to estimate the WTP price for maintaining the tea plantation ecology was conducted. Empirical results showed a significantly negative correlation between the WTP price and the education level of farmers in tea plantations using CFMs, but a significantly positive correlation in tea plantations using both CFMs and OFMs. Most respondents were male and used CFMs to operate tea plantations; and those with higher monthly income and using both CFMs and OFMs were willing to pay more. Regarding ecosystem services of tea plantations, the respondents preferred the “provisioning” ecosystem services, and were willing to pay an average of NT$ 718.92 and NT$ 794.32 per year for maintaining the ecology of tea plantations using CFMs and OFMs, respectively. The unit ecological value of tea plantations was not inferior to those of coniferous and broad-leaved forests, paddy fields, and algae reefs from previous studies. Finally, some suggestions are proposed for a reference in formulating relevant ecological protection policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111355
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume158
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Contingent valuation method
  • Ecosystem service
  • Protest responses
  • Regression analysis
  • Tea plantation
  • Willingness to pay

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