Katharine Sims, associate professor of economics and environmental studies, and chair of the economics department, recently spoke on WAMC’s “The Academic Minute” about her research into the benefits of paying landowners to help with environmental management.
She and her co-authors studied an ecosystem services program run by the Mexican National Forestry Commission, which pays common-property landowners to do things such as patrolling for illegal activity, building fire breaks, or enhancing soil conservation.
“We found that the program resulted in an approximately 50 percent increase in land management activities,” while boosting community involvement, she said. This study adds new information to prior findings that Mexico’s payments for ecosystem services program reduced forest cover loss and helped alleviate local poverty, she said.
“Incentive-based conservation makes sense because it compensates landowners for the benefits their ecosystems provide to others. Our research shows it can also support social capital, which is an important driver of economic development,” she said.