This study, employing contingent behavior approach,
examines the benefits of improving water quality
in the largest remaining tidal flat in South Korea. The
southern tidal flat of Ganghwa Island, a major stopping
point for significant numbers of migratory birds on the
Austral-Asian flyway, draws thousands of visitors every
month. However, the current water quality, degraded due
to pollution, negatively affects ecosystem services that the
tidal flat provides for many creatures, including the last
remaining populations of endangered black-faced spoonbill.
Questionnaire surveys targeting visitors to the tidal flat have
been conducted in 2009. Application of the negative binomial
model has indicated that the total recreational value of
the tidal flat is approximately 11.2 billion Korean won
(KRW) per year. The annual benefits of improving the water
quality by introducing sewage-treatment plants are estimated
as KRW 13.4 billion, while the costs of constructing and
operating the plants account for less than 3% of the benefits.
There is a strong economic justification for investing in the
plants to improve the water quality. These findings are
useful for policymakers to positively consider public spending
in the tidal flat conservation.