CORVALLIS, Ore. Paying rural landowners in Oregon's Willamette Basin to protect at-risk animals won't necessarily mean that their newly conserved trees and plants will absorb more carbon from the atmosphere and vice versa, a new study has found.
The study, to be published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed hypothetical payments that were given to landowners to voluntarily take their acreage out of production for conservation. Scenarios conserving different types of land were also developed. The study then examined the relationship between the absorption of carbon, a contributor to global warming, by trees and plants and the protection of 37 different types of animals under each of these scenarios and payment schemes.
"The main thing we found is that if you want to conserve species, that policy might not be compatible with carbon sequestration," said co-author Andrew Plantinga, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University. "On the other hand, if you want to get carbon out of the atmosphere, it's not clear that will be good for species."
He and seven others wrote the report: "Efficiency of Incentives to Jointly Increase Carbon Sequestration and Species Conservation on a Landscape."
The take-home message, he said, is this: "When you think about policies targeted to private landowners, government has to be careful about how it does this because it may achieve one objective but at the expense of something else."
The researchers created five scenarios in which different types of land were taken out of production in the Willamette Basin, which consists of a flat valley floor and the surrounding forested Coast and Cascade ranges. They applied three different budgets to each scenario. In the first budget, an entity (for example, the government or a land trust) had $1 million to give to landowners each year. The other annu
|Contact: Andrew Plantinga|
Oregon State University