Forestry & Natural Resources
Non Technical Summary
One of the top contemporary environmental concerns on forestlands is biological invasion.As federal spending on invasive management increases,more and more nonindustrial private forestlandowners turnto voluntary conservation programs for financial assistance to defray some of their control expenses. Alarmingly, to date, little information is available as to whether participations in conservation cost sharing have actually helped contain or reduce invasion on enrolled forestlands. A clear answer to this question will guide future policy implementation, optimize the additional impact per dollar of public funds, and safeguard the sustainability of timber resources and ecosystem services.We will conduct an integrated economic-ecological analysis, using data collected from anlandowner survey and a forest vegetation inventory of invasive plants and biodiversity in Indiana. Using economic modeling, we will quantify the behavior change in private investments in invasive plant eradication due to participation in a federal conservation incentive program, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). In addition, we will integrate the economic models with ecological data from the forest vegetation inventory to determine the actual environmental impacts of EQIP participation in terms of invasion severity, timber quality, and ecosystem services.The findings from this project will deliver pivotal information to evaluate the past success of conservation cost sharing in controlling biological invasion in private forests, and provide insights to guide its future implementation. More efficient use of public funds for biological conservation will help to protect the natural environment, enhance ecosystem services, benefit landowners and timber sector, and improve the welfare of the public.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
The major goal of this project is to assess the efficacy of conservation cost sharing in controlling invasive forest plants for guiding efficient use of public funds to mitigate biological invasion, improve environmental quality, and safeguard ecosystem services in nonindustrial private forests (NIPFs).To achieve the overarchinggoal,our research activities are guided by the following objectives:Quantify the additional private investments in controlling invasive plants by Indiana NIPF landowners induced by participation in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP);Estimate the additional reduction in invasion severity and enhancement in timber productivity, biodiversity, and recreation, caused by the additionality in private investments;Gauge the additional benefits that could have been achieved on nonparticipating land if the landowner had enrolled in the EQIP.Examine the spatial spillover of the EQIP on NIPF forests not treated for invasive plants;Assess whether cost-share payments for other forest land conservation practices has had effects on private investments in invasion eradication.
We will conduct an integrated economic-ecological analysis to assess the effectiveness of conservation cost sharing, using data collected from an NIPF landowner survey and a forest vegetation inventory of invasive plants and biodiversity in Indiana. The methods areunique in that in addition to studying conservation behavioral changes due to program participation, we will also gauge the actual impacts on ecosystems.First, amixed-mode survey approach will be used, with mail survey and web survey of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) landowners in Indiana conducted concurrently. The surveywill solicit information regarding invasive control and management,program participation, andinformation regarding forest and landowner attributes.Before using the landowner survey data for economic modeling, issues such as nonresponse and coverage biases will be checked and corrected.A forest vegetation inventory will be conducted on invasion severity, biodiversity and timber productivity on selected NIPFproperties, stratified to have proportional representations in both northern and southern Indiana.On each site, a fixed-area sample plot system consisting of multiple sites in each study location to capture the dynamics of tree and nonwoody species on both treated and untreated areas. Tree data to be collected include diameter, crown class, and the species' scientific name. Understory vegetation, both vascular and nonvascular, are measured by percentage cover and identified by scientific name. Shrubs-seedlings are identified by species and measured as count data by individual.With the data from the landowner survey,a two-stage control function approach will be usedto estimate the additionality in eradication investments due to enrollment in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).The first-stage model is a bivariate Probit model representing a NIPF landowner's enrollment status in EQIP for two types of conservation practices, controlling invasive forest plants and other forest conservation practices.The second-stage model represents a utility-maximizing landowner'sdecision on investing in controlling invasive plants.Using the estimated parameters, the counterfactual of eradication investments will be determined for each of those receiving EQIP cost-share payments for invasion eradication and those not receiving them. Then,the average additionality in eradication investments for all EQIP participants in Indiana will be calculated.Next, using data collected from the forest vegetation inventory, we will assess whether EQIP has extended impacts on the environment post policy implementation, measured with environmental quality: invasion severity, and some key indicators of ecosystem services. This will be achieved by establishing the counterfactual of invasive severity with no participation in the program. The environmental impact of EQIP participation will be measured with the disparity between the counterfactual and the actual invasion severity.Similarly, the counterfactual of other environmental indicators will be determined and compared to the actual status.Efforts:To communicate our findings from this project with scientific peers including economists, conservation scientists, and ecologists, we will present these findings at regional and national conferences as well as publish them in international peer-reviewed journals. We will publish a white paper and hold state-wide workshops to communicate our findings with the nonscientific community including policy makers and agencies. To reach a large body of NIPF landowners, we will also present the results at the annual landowner meeting and publish a series of brief communication articles in the quarterly landowner newsletters.Evaluation: The major milestones for measuring the success of the project include 1) completingthe landowner survey and correcting for errors and biases in year 1; 2) complete two rounds of forest vegetation inventory by year 2; 3) completing preliminary economic modeling in year 2; 4) completing integrated economic and ecological modeling in year 3; 5) disseminatingmajor results among selected stakeholders in year 3.