David J. Lewis

Empirical economic modeling of land conservation programs and ecosystem services

David J. Lewis
Department of Economics, University of Puget Sound, USA
Day 3, 14:00-14:40

Land-use change results in changes in the spatial pattern of land use, often in ways that diminish ecosystem services and reduce biodiversity. In landscapes dominated by private ownership, landowners lack the incentive to coordinate decisions in order to influence the spatial land-use pattern and the ecosystem services that depend on it. This presentation focuses on empirical methods developed in environmental economics that have been used to understand the nature and extent of this market failure problem and to identify and quantify the effects of corrective land-use policies, such as payments-for-ecosystem services (PES) programs. The modeling framework integrates econometric models of landowner decisions with spatial simulations and wildlife population models. Using empirical case studies from two regions in the United States and from the continental U.S. as a whole, the modeling framework is used to quantify ecological outcomes associated with alternative land-use policy designs. A particular focus is on common challenges associated with private landowner information and the empirical accounting of uncertain ecological outcomes. A second focus is on the need for continued integration of quantitative economic and ecological models in order to evaluate the ecological effects of alternative land-use policy designs.


David J. Lewis

David J. Lewis is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, USA. David is an environmental economist whose research is focused on various economic aspects of land and wildlife conservation. One objective of his research is to examine the design and economic effects of voluntary landowner incentive policies, public land purchases, and regulatory approaches such as zoning. Much of this research emphasizes the quantitative modeling of private landowner decision-making from observed data, and integrating such models with spatially-explicit landscape and wildlife simulation models. A second objective is to understand how environmental policies can affect economic welfare through the development of quantitative models of land values and survey responses. He actively participates in several multi-disciplinary research projects involving natural and social scientists. David holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Oregon State University and held a previous position as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.