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UBC Theses and Dissertations

For love or money : harnessing environmental values and financial incentives to promote conservation stewardship Olmsted, Paige


Despite broad agreement that large scale funding is needed to address the severe risks associated with habitat loss and ecosystem service degradation, financial and market-based interventions have brought substantial division in the conservation sector. This dissertation examines the values and attitudes associated with financial mechanisms and incentives, considering diverse groups with different relationships to natural landscapes: Costa Rican farmers, North American tourists in Costa Rica, and potential conservation donors. Despite diverse barriers and motives for participation, this dissertation investigates the opportunity for financial mechanisms to bolster and support values associated with environmental responsibility. The first study pilots methods for assessing ‘relational values’, a concept that transcends traditional instrumental/intrinsic value divisions in linking people to ecosystems. Results suggest that relational values are distinct from standard methods of measuring ecological worldview and are predictive of farmer attitudes at the landscape level. The second study assesses environmental values and attitudes of Costa Rican farmers regarding a national payment for ecosystem services program. The study investigates a set of claims regarding the negative effects of monetary incentives associated with the idea of “motivational crowding out”. Results indicate strong environmental concern across both participants and non-participants, and finds strong correlations between relational values and a series of farming attitudes associated with lifestyle and conservation. The third study quantifies tourist preferences for specific attributes of conservation programs in Costa Rica, and explores the relationship between ecotourism and environmental values with knowledge of a prominent environmental challenge in the region. Stated interest in supporting conservation and strong environmental values presents an opportunity to leverage conservation values and increase financial support for conservation. The fourth study introduces the concept of conservation impact investing, describes the unique challenges that differentiate it from other social issues, and outlines a research agenda for paths forward. I address the potential for conservation impact investing to expand the reach and constituency of support for conservation, and the risks associated with diverting funds from traditional conservation programs. The dissertation lends support for the notion that appropriately designed incentive programs could significantly unite and expand interest and participation in conservation efforts rather than divide them.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International