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Lawson, E. T., Schluchter, W., Gordon, C. : Using the paired comparison methodology to assess environmental values in the coastal zone of Ghana. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 14: 231-238, 2010.


Like many developing countries, Ghana is grappling with environmental issues, such as the degradation of coastal natural resources. In an attempt to ameliorate the current state of affairs, broad institutional arrangements and policy interventions have been put in place. However coastal natural resources are still being overexploited and the effects of this are felt more strongly by certain groups (such as women and the rural poor) than others. This has led to the argument pointing to an urgent need to include local resource users as active participants in environmental decision making and to incorporate their environmental values in the management of coastal natural resources. Using empirical data from women in two Ghanaian coastal communities, this paper highlights the importance of exploring how the environmental attitudes and values of women might be considered in the management of local coastal natural resources. It assesses effectiveness of the paired comparison methodology in this respects and how this method can be also used to prioritise their environmental concerns.

The results show that in both areas respondents place the greatest importance on the coastal natural resources as sources of wealth creation and of food, values which are often described as being “anthropocentric”. The paper thus argues that having discovered that the ecological value placed on natural resources is low, initiatives that could win the support of people would be those that link the livelihood and wellbeing to coastal NRM. It emphasizes the fact that conservation cannot exist outside of people and social systems; nor will it succeed unless they are linked to the welfare of resource users. 

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