Electronic Journal of Polish Agricultural Universities (EJPAU) founded by all Polish Agriculture Universities presents original papers and review articles relevant to all aspects of agricultural sciences. It is target for persons working both in science and industry,regulatory agencies or teaching in agricultural sector. Covered by IFIS Publishing (Food Science and Technology Abstracts), ELSEVIER Science - Food Science and Technology Program, CAS USA (Chemical Abstracts), CABI Publishing UK and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publisher - full membership). Presented in the Master List of Thomson ISI.
Volume 8
Issue 2
Manteuffel Szoege H. , Sobolewska A. , Manteuffel Szoege W. 2005. VALUING PROTECTION OF THE RURAL LANDSCAPE IN THE PUBLIC OPINION, EJPAU 8(2), #19.
Available Online: http://www.ejpau.media.pl/volume8/issue2/art-19.html


Henryk Manteuffel Szoege1, Agnieszka Sobolewska1, Władysław Manteuffel Szoege2
1 Department of Agricultural Economics and International Economic Relations, Warsaw Agricultural University, Poland
2 Warsaw School of Economics, Poland



Willingness to pay for the removal of the billboards standing free along the roads has been investigated by using the contingent valuation method. The results of a very limited investigation carried out among the travellers on a thirty kilometre long stretch of the E77 road between Grójec and Janki near Warsaw indicate a rather significant social sensitivity to this sort of pollution of the landscape. If the willingness to pay was attached to one advertisement placed outside the fenced private property along the road, its removal should be valued at 11.32 PLN/household. Total Polish willingness to pay for removal of the standing advertisements has been roughly estimated at 8302.5 million PLN. The sensitivity to this type of landscape pollution was growing with the education and decreasing with the age and the wealth of the person interviewed, except for the highest income group. Women were more sensitive than men.

Key words: advertisements, landscape pollution, willingness to pay.


Rural areas in our country, as well as in the other countries of the world, undergo a quick urbanization. They also partially loose their agricultural features and acquire the character of recreational areas. In either case of utilization their urbanization can be considered harmful. The main roads in Poland become actually inner streets of the emerging, in an uncontrolled way, mega-villages (megalopolia), stretching for hundreds of kilometres between the cities.

One of the most visible tokens of this sort of transformation are long lines of free standing billboards of all possible sizes, construction types and graphic styles. Their number has risen rapidly since the change of the economic system into capitalism in 1990.

Billboards standing along the roads are often considered a nuisance because of:

There is no doubt that the free standing advertisements are polluting the landscape (they are not called here just billboards since the investigation did not deal with the billboards hanging on the walls). Therefore even in the country of most liberal economy like the United States of America operates the Highway Beautification Act passed in 1965 which introduced a ban on putting up advertisements along the interstate roads, except for their limited separated stretches, and also along other roads rated as scenic by the state authorities. The last can additionally put this ban on other roads or impose some other restrictions [6]. Also in the Western Europe road advertising is very limited which changes completely with crossing the Polish border.

Putting up free standing billboards is in Poland regulated by the construction bill from 1994 [9]. In the not urbanized areas (classified as such according to the bill on public roads) it requires a permit from the county governor (starosta) only if an electric connection is needed. If the area is not included into the territory officially protected by the state conservation officer only notifying the local district office is required. This office may protest against the construction within 30 days. In fact an entirely voluntary practice is observed.

The public sensitivity to the above mentioned sort of landscape pollution has been investigated, also in the economic sense, by applying the contingent valuation method in a survey of the travelling public on the E77 road in winter 2004 (See for example a description of the method by Żylicz [10], by Mitchell and Carson [7] or in Ekonomiczna.... [3]).


E77 is a big road connecting Cracow and Warsaw. The survey was limited to a 30 kilometre stretch between Grójec and Janki, close to Warsaw. Car drivers, truck drivers and car passengers were interviewed at the two most popular filling stations located by the road, local bus passengers were interviewed during the ride. Car and truck drivers and passengers were interrogated on two working days (Monday and Friday) and two Sundays, bus passengers on two working days (Mondays). The replies have been treated as typical for these days in the months of interrogation (February and March) and the results when needed stretched over the other days in a year by using the daily and seasonal coefficients of the density of traffic. The coefficients were based on the investigation of traffic on the said road by a consulting firm Transprojekt in year 2000 [4,8]. This has enabled an estimate of the general public attitude towards the free standing advertisements and the yearly and absolute values of the social willingness to pay for their possible removal. In order to estimate the number of people exposed yearly to the road side advertising the number of various sorts of vehicles passing at least once a year the investigated stretch of the road must have been determined. This was done by applying the frequencies of the passage declared by the respondents to the total numbers of vehicles per year reported by the Transprojekt. Average numbers of passengers in one car and in one bus were assumed equal to those in the scrutinized vehicles. Total number of travellers passing at least once a section of this road was calculated at 1 545 977 a year. Also the stretch of the road passed by the particular traveller and the numbers of billboards in this stretch were taken into account in order to assign the willingness to pay to one advertisement.

Willingness to pay was defined as the willingness to sacrifice a certain sum out of the monthly disposable income per member of the family per month for not being forced to look at the billboards for a month. If the passengers in a car belonged to the driver´s family, the results were averaged for family. Total willingness to pay was assessed as estimated number of travellers in a given category times the appropriate average willingness per person times the number of persons in their families.

Out of 292 filled up questionnaires 253 were reckoned to be filled properly. 129 of them related to car drivers, 36 to truck or lorry professional drivers, 16 to car passengers and 72 to bus passengers.

Because of the winter season neither cyclists, motorcyclists nor horse cart drivers were interrogated. However according to Transprojekt their share in the total traffic is insignificant. Besides 263 persons denied to reply to the survey.


The very limited investigation indicates a rather significant social sensitivity to the subject sort of pollution of the landscape which is shown in figure 1.

Fig 1. Acknowledgement of the onerousness of billboards

The reasons for admitting the onerousness of the billboards standing alone at the road sides were suggested in the questionnaire. The distribution of answers between the three mentioned at the beginning is shown in figure 2.

Fig 2. Reasons for onerousness for those who feel it

Quite a significant number of the respondents would back introducing an official ban on putting up standing alone advertisement structures, though the majority were against it. The acceptability of this potential ban is illustrated in figure 3.

Fig 3. Acceptance for the ban on the alone standing billboards

Reasons why the idea of a ban on these structures might have been rejected was also suggested to the respondents in the questionnaire, though the question stayed open to other answers. The distribution of answers in particular traveller categories is presented in figure 4.

Fig 4. Reasons for disagreement with the ban on the billboards standing alone

Fig 5. Willingness to pay for removal of billboards

Contingent valuation method tries to assess the total social worth of an ecosystem or the worth of a change thereof by interrogating the representatives of the society in a survey. Willingness to pay for avoiding a negative change or for introducing a positive one declared by the respondents stands for the basis of the valuation. This willingness among those who considered them harmful (not necessarily backing the idea of introducing a ban on them) related to the removal of the billboards standing along the roads was determined in PLN/household/billboard/year. It varied depending on the socioeconomic features of the respondent such as sex, age, income, education and the way of participation in the road traffic. The willingness and its variability are demonstrated in figures 5 and 6.

Fig 6. Social differentiation in the propensity to pay for removal of the billboards standing free along the public roads

Absolute willingness to pay attached to the removal of one billboard placed outside the fenced private property along the road was calculated by capitalizing the yearly willingness to pay by those who had a visual contact with it during their travel. Consumption rate of interest equal to 2.1495 % was used in the capitalization. It was the prevailing bank deposit rate in 2003 equal to 3.4 %, net of inflation rate and net of the income tax on the interest on bank savings. When using this rate the removal of one free standing advertisement should be valued at 11.32 PLN/household. Total Polish willingness to pay for removal of the billboards standing along the roads, capitalized at the same interest rate, has been roughly estimated at 8302.5 million PLN, or 178.5 million PLN a year. These numbers were calculated assuming the average Polish willingness to pay equal to the average observed in the survey, and by attaching the willingness to pay declared in the households only to the adult members of the society. This is justified by the usual way of thinking only in the categories of income earning members of the family. If the total number of people living in Poland in 2004 was envisaged, as it formally suggested the survey, the values would become respectively 10621.1 million PLN and 228.3 million PLN a year.


The sensitivity to the described type of landscape pollution was decreasing with the age of the person interviewed and the income of the household, except for the wealthiest, and increasing with the level of education. Women appeared to be more sensitive to it than men.

Authors do realize that their research was very limited and unilateral. No investigation was directed towards the estimation of the willingness to pay for leaving the advertisements untouched on the part of those who appreciated their presence and the services rendered. Also inhabitants of the areas along the roads who are also affected, both negatively and positively, were not covered by the survey. The loss in the crop value due to deficient insolation in the areas shaded by the billboards was also neglected as probably insignificant in the light of a professional study [2].

The bigger concern shown by the wealthiest and youngest part of the society is suggesting a growing weight of the problem in the future.

Although the values retrieved from the study are formally referring only to the billboards standing along the Grójec - Janki road, they are rather representing the willingness to pay for the removal of all free standing billboards in the country. This exemplifies the well known effect of embedding a particular problem in a wider context in the respondents´ imagination [3]. Authors have been aware of that and therefore treated the results as a basis for a rough estimate of the total Polish willingness to pay, with no claim to being accurate. Proper separation of the willingness to pay for the removal of the limited number of billboards standing by the investigated road from the willingness to pay for the total removal seemed to be not obtainable at this stage of investigation.


  1. Billboard FAQ [no date]. www.dot.state.ia.us/adman/billboards/billboard_faq.htm.

  2. Efekty ekonomiczne nakładów na tworzenie pasów buforowych na terenie gospodarstw rolnych [Economic effects of expenses on building buffer zones in farms´ areas] [2002]. Mimeo. Agroconsult. Warsaw [in Polish].

  3. Ekonomiczna wycena środowiska przyrodniczego [Economic valuation of natural environment] [1996]. G. Anderson and J. Śleszyński ed. Wyd. Ekonomia i Środowisko. Białystok [in Polish].

  4. Generalny pomiar ruchu - 2000 rok [General traffic measurement - 2000] [2002]. Mimeo. Transprojekt. Warsaw [in Polish].

  5. Informacja o sytuacji społeczno - gospodarczej kraju. Rok 2003 [Information about socio-economics situation of the country. 2003] [2004 ]. GUS. Warsaw [in Polish].

  6. Laws and regulations [2003]. Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Inc. www.oaaa.org/government/laws.asp.
  7. Mitchell R., Carson R. [1984]. Using Surveys to Value Public Goods: The Contingent Valuation Method. Resources for the Future. Washington D.C.

  8. Ruch drogowy 2000. [2001]. Mimeo. Transprojekt. Warsaw.

  9. Ustawa z dnia 7 lipca 1994 r. Prawo budowlane. [1994]. Dziennik Ustaw R.P. no 89, item 414. Consolidated text by the Parliament Chancellery, actualized to the version published in Dziennik Ustaw R. P. no 6 item 41, 2004.

  10. Żylicz T. [1998] Finansowe aspekty zachowania kapitału przyrodniczego [Financial aspects of saving natural capital]. [in :] Sterowanie ekorozwojem. Vol. 1. Teoretyczne aspekty ekorozwoju. Wyd. Politechniki Białostockiej. Białystok [in Polish].

Henryk Manteuffel Szoege
Department of Agricultural Economics and International Economic Relations,
Warsaw Agricultural University, Poland
166 Nowoursynowska st., 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
email: manteuffel@alpha.sggw.waw.pl

Agnieszka Sobolewska
Department of Agricultural Economics and International Economic Relations,
Warsaw Agricultural University, Poland
166 Nowoursynowska st., 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
email: sobolewska@alpha.sggw.waw.pl

Władysław Manteuffel Szoege
Warsaw School of Economics, Poland

email: vladooka@o2.pl

Responses to this article, comments are invited and should be submitted within three months of the publication of the article. If accepted for publication, they will be published in the chapter headed 'Discussions' and hyperlinked to the article.