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Abstract

This paper analyzes the demand for recreation in Swiss forests using the individual travel cost method. We apply a two-steps approach, i.e., a hurdle zero-truncated negative binomial model, that allows accounting for a large number of non-visitors caused by the off-site phone survey and over-dispersion. Given the national scale of the survey, we group forest zones to assess consumer surpluses and travel cost elasticities for relatively homogeneous forest types. We find that forest recreation activities are travel cost inelastic and show that recreation in Swiss forests provides large benefits to the population. The most populated area is associated with greater consumer surpluses, but the lack of recreational infrastructure may cause a lower recreational benefit in some zones. For these zones, recreational benefits may be lower than costs caused by maintenance. More efficient management would require either improving recreational infrastructure thus increasing benefits, or switching the forest status from recreational to biodiversity forest hence decreasing management costs.

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