Existence, bequest and altruistic value

Travertine Hot Springs

The economic value of a resource such as groundwater is based on individuals' preferences for that resource. Individuals are assumed to have preferences and express these preferences through their selling and purchasing behaviour. Individuals are also assumed to have a willingness to pay to secure gains or avoid losses in the quality and quantity of the resource. A gain is considered as any change that increases human welfare and vice versa.

A non-use value is a value that does not concern an individuals use, either directly or indirectly of the environment, its resources or services. There are three basic components of non-use value:

Existence Value- Derived simply from the reassurance of knowing that the resource will continue to exist, whether or not this might also be of benefit to others. For example, groundwater being a resource on its own and through its recharge from surface water is likely to attract existence values.

Bequest Value- Identified with the reassurance that the resource will be suitable in quantity and quality for future generations. For example, groundwater is likely to develop bequest value both as a resource (by providing futue generation with access to safe clean water) and through its contribution to surface water bodies and other ecological services.

Altruistic Value- Derived from the reassurance that individuals can enjoy the benefits the resources provides. For example, groundwater is likely to attract altruistic value for others' use of the resource and as a provider of alternative ecological services.