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Analyzing how forest-based amenity values and carbon storage benefits affect spatial targeting for conservation investment
Forest Policy and Economics  (IF3.673),  Pub Date : 2021-07-30, DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102570
Bijay P. Sharma, Seong-Hoon Cho

We analyze how two different ecosystem services: forest-based amenity values and carbon storage benefits, affect spatial targeting for conservation investment for protected area acquisition using selected forest clusters in Knox County, Tennessee in the United States. We determine return-on-investment (ROI) for these two different forest-based ecosystem services by estimating amenity values and carbon storage amounts using hedonic price model and dynamic Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM), respectively, and corresponding acquisition costs at the forest cluster level. Our findings of the optimal protected area acquisition in the form of forest clusters serve as an empirically informed knowledge base to help both the conservation and planning agencies in prioritizing acquisition of potential protected areas depending on their preferences. By using carbon and amenity ROIs in spatial targeting of forest clusters within the multi-objective optimization set up, we not only addressed the spatial heterogeneity in the carbon storage benefits and amenity values but also the spatial heterogeneity in cluster acquisition costs. We also found that selection decisions were dictated by the weakly negative correlation (−0.16) between the carbon and amenity ROIs instead of weakly positive correlation (0.14) between carbon storage benefits and amenity values. Since the spatial distribution of carbon and amenity ROIs were weakly negatively correlated, there were apparent conflicts between the objectives of maximizing forest carbon storage and amenity value. This resulted in concave frontiers with tradeoffs between the objectives implying variation in spatial distribution of the selected forest clusters letting the conservation and planning agencies decide combination of strategies which best fit their preferences.