Evaluating the interests of buyers in a voluntary ecosystem services exchange


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A thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE in ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Ecosystem services provide essential benefits that humans rely on for life, and humans have put substantial pressures on natural systems that provide these services. Numerous efforts have been made to halt, or reverse, this trend; however, new mechanisms are needed to support restoration and conservation efforts. Payment for ecosystem services (PES) is an approach by which resources are funneled toward these objectives. While compensatory mitigation markets are in place—and are evolving—research regarding the interests of market participants in voluntary arrangements is underdeveloped. It is important to note that compensatory mitigation is geared toward “no net loss” compliance, and therefore cannot be said to be improving the status quo. To better understand the interests and expectations of the voluntary buyer, we wanted to know if those buyers are willing to participate in a voluntary market, how they would like it to function, and what they might want it to deliver. After surveying 300 respondents, from three separate groups of 100 each (architects, businesses, NGO’s), results suggest there is significant enough interest in these voluntary purchases to develop them further. In addition, survey respondents expressed the desire to engage with a voluntary market that would also support business objectives. Results indicate that there is a willingness to participate in these types of arrangements, and that the desires of the different groups are similar.
Physical and Environmental Sciences
College of Science and Engineering