Landscape restoration due to Xylella fastidiosa invasion in Italy: Assessing the hypothetical public’s preferences

Since 2013, the olive landscapes have gradually degenerated due to the spread and establishment of Xylella fastidiosa subsp. pauca (hereafter Xf) in Apulia, southern Italy. From 2013 to 2019, a total of approximately 54,000 hectares of olive orchards in the south of this region have been seriously damaged, and their restoration will progressively regenerate the economic, social, cultural and environmental nonmarket benefits. Since there is a willingness to restore the affected landscape in the best interest of the local citizens, this research aims to predict their preference heterogeneity and willingness to pay (WTP) to improve this landscape and continue research and experimentation in relation to Olive Quick Decline Syndrome Disease by the bacterium. For this purpose, a choice experiment method is used. The social field survey includes a representative sample of 683 respondents in three major cities (Foggia, Bari and Lecce) of Apulia region. The results reveal that for the local citizens interviewed, the most appreciated olive landscape services are cultural heritage and aesthetic values. In addition, the findings revealed citizens’ positive appreciation of improving the damaged olive landscape, while respondents are not willing to pay a premium for research. The results show that the average value that Apulians are willing to pay for landscape restoration is about 5.7 million of € per year. Further, this research has implications for land use planners in the study area, which faces issues of harmful pathogen management and land revival.

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