College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Wildlife conservation is challenged by the expensive and cost prohibitive strategy of directly purchasing land to protect habitat at the landscape scale. An alternative mechanism used to protect habitat includes payments for ecosystem‐services (PES), where farmers and landowners are paid to manage their lands for a particular ecological service. Some of these easements are used to conserve a diversity of resources (i.e., water, soil, nutrient cycling, and biodiversity); however, the largest PES easement programs focus on carbon sequestration and are sold on international carbon markets as offsets. Here, we demonstrate that successfully protecting vulnerable habitat for wildlife can be achieved through partnerships with programs that trade in carbon offsets by focusing landowner recruitment activities in areas with ecologically valuable habitat. This collaborative strategy represents a cost effective and efficient model to protect wildlife at landscape scales. As proof of concept, in 2015 we successfully protected and restored habitats used by golden‐winged warblers, a species being considered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for protection under the Endangered Species Act, by partnering with organizations responsible for managing carbon offsets in Costa Rica. Through these partnerships, we successfully protected 790 ha of valuable habitat, within a single year, by recruiting farmers and landowners into an easement program in the heart of the warbler's winter range. We present our efforts as a model for similar collaborative partnerships in the tropics and beyond.
Conservation Science and Practice
Wolfe, J. D.,
Integrating wildlife conservation into ecosystem service payments and carbon offsets: A case study from Costa Rica.
Conservation Science and Practice,
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