The Defenders Conservation Economics and Finance program works to make sure that the value of biodiversity and conservation are incorporated into decisions by individuals, landowners, corporations and decision makers.
Defenders of Wildlife has maintained a conservation economics program for more than a decade because we believe that this innovative and cutting edge field of science will help us to better measure the real value of nature and thus conserve it.
On the dotWild Experts Blog
In-depth analysis of recent research and policy implications from our Conservation Economics and Finance team.
Defenders in Action: Payments for Ecosystem Services
What are Payments for Ecosystem Services?
Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are payments provided to landowners for the environmental benefits that their lands provide, including clean water, wildlife habitat, and healthy soil.
Why PES are important
Development and sprawl are major threats to both wildlife habitat and landowners such as farmers and ranchers. By providing PES to these landowners, we conserve important ecological values and create a viable source of income that allows these landowners to keep their land undeveloped. We believe that both markets and government-provided payments for ecosystem services are appropriate and complementary tools to advance biodiversity conservation. However, not enough of those markets and payments for services yet exist, in the private or government sector.
What Defenders is doing
Defenders is working with partners to determine interest in and feasibility of PES programs. The results of this work can be used to structure programs that attract strong landowner participation and generate environmental benefits.
In 2011, Defenders released a report on Payments for Ecosystem Services on California Rangelands. This report presents the results of a survey of California ranchers' perspectives, knowledge, and preferences for current and prospective resource conservation programs based on incentives for conserving or restoring ecosystem services.
Defenders also explores the potential for PES to protect rangelands and watershed health. Our recent report on the Feasibility of Water Quality Trading on Rangelands in California assesses the role for rangelands in providing clean water and protecting habitat. This report draws on the experiences of water quality trading programs across the United States, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for creating programs that are accessible to ranchers.
On the Blog
Defenders in Action: Economic Benefits of Conservation
Through projects and reports, Defenders identifies and estimates economic values associated with biodiversity and habitat conservation.
Wildlife Habitat Benefits Estimation Toolkit
The Wildlife Habitat Benefits Estimation Toolkit is a set of user-friendly Excel models that allows users to generate quantitative estimates of the economic values generated by specific natural areas of interest to them. The Toolkit includes detailed user manuals, presentations, technical documentation of the estimation models and literature reviews. Download the toolkit  (.zip) and user manual here .
Estimating Benefits of Conserving Habitat
Defenders has looked at specific policies in several states to determine the public and private benefits of conserving wildlife habitat and natural resources.