Using the concept of PES, the Bobolink Project moves environmental economics research beyond measuring values and into the development of efficient markets to capture those values and maximize their ability to support ecosystem services (ES). Beginning in Rhode Island and then expanding to Vermont, the project employed a novel approach, where crowd-sourced pledges for ecosystem services were matched with landowner bids. Specifically, hayfield owners with nesting habitat for grassland birds were invited to participate in a uniform price auction to adopt “bird-friendly” haying practices in exchange for compensation. Simultaneously, private citizens were asked to engage in an innovative pledging process, inspired by Lindahl pricing, where funds would be used to compensate landowners. Resulting ES included viewscapes, flora, fauna and sounds generated from the contracted hayfields. After three pilot seasons supported by a research grant that resulted in 1089 acres of safe habitat for ground-nesting birds in Vermont, the project administration transitioned to Audubon Societies and expanded to include Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. The success of the project suggests that this approach may be appropriate in other contexts where targeted ES include flagship species, and landowner-sellers can enter into contracts to deliver clearly-defined outcomes valued by donor-buyers.
- Experimental economics
- Grassland nesting birds
- Outcome-based donations
- Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES)
- Uniform Price Auction (UPA)