Lab Seminar - Encouraging the defragmentation of habitat on private lands

The value of a particular configuration.
The value of a particular configuration from the development or conservation of a parcel, as well as the clustering of parcels of a similar type.

Pierce Donovan presented his research on habitat defragmentation on private lands. Endangered species conservation is a public issue that often resides on private lands. As land is developed, habitat fragmentation weakens natural ecosystem function and decreases the probability of long-run species viability. Common solutions to this fragmentation problem involve conservation banking, trade-able development rights, or safe harbor agreements. These approaches are most effective when there exists the potential for a large protectorate under the control of a single landowner, and these instruments lose practicality as land ownership itself is increasingly fragmented. Yet it is in precisely these situations where habitat fragmentation is most likely! This paper provides guidance for strategies to regulate a decentralized group of landowners and compares the benefits of several reasonable conservation incentive schemes. This paper relies on concepts from statistical mechanics to model a complicated network of interacting landowners, their reactions to different land-use policies, and measure the social conservation benefits of the aggregation. Such a modeling paradigm is valuable to many sub-disciplines of economics beyond land conservation and natural resource management.