Relational values help explain green infrastructure preferences: the case of managing crane habitat in Hokkaido, Japan.
The initial purpose of our study was to understand preferences of stakeholders on green infrastructure for flood control using a discrete choice experiment. However, the results of our study included unexpected findings. According to the utility theory of economics, an inexpensive green infrastructure scenario should have been chosen under ceteris paribus conditions, but our results differed from this expectation. Inconsistent results like ours are often interpreted as indicating bias and/or questionnaire design issues. However, our results can be interpreted using relational values. We studied green infrastructure in a large-scale flood control basin in Naganuma, a town in the Hokkaido prefecture in Northern Japan. We conducted a discrete choice experiment with town residents as stakeholders of the green infrastructure. Through the examination of choice and membership parameters of our results, we interpreted that individual identity and place attachment, which are types of relational values, are taken into consideration in the choice situation of the discrete choice experiment. We also found that a notion of social responsibility, which is also a relational value, can help us to understand unexpected findings that cannot be interpreted in terms of economic theory alone. Relational values contribute to our interpretation of preferences related to managing ecosystem services with implications for green infrastructure, culturally significant wildlife, wildlife-related recreation and flood control.