F&ES 766b / 2019-2020

Payment for Ecosystem Services Programs: Design and Evaluation of Policies to Improve Land-Use Outcomes

Credits: 3

Spring 2020: M, 1:00-3:50, Sage 24

This course will explore the challenge of achieving efficient patterns of land use. The provision of market goods associated with intensive management of the landscape comes at the cost of foregone ecosystem services and reduced levels of biodiversity, whose values are typically not considered in market transactions. So, the potential for market intervention in these systems to improve social welfare exists. The issues of information asymmetry and adverse selection play a strong role in determining the efficacy of various land-use policies. These challenges have led to adoption of payment-for-ecosystem services (PES) programs, a form of conditional cash transfer, in both developed and developing nations to better reflect the tradeoffs of habitat conservation and conversion. We will introduce the challenges of implementing land-use policy by exploring multiple forms of interventions (e.g., command-and-control and market-based mechanisms) before moving on to consider the unique challenges of successfully implementing PES programs in both developed- and developing-nation contexts, which differ with regard to institutions and governance, as well as in their focus on poverty alleviation.