Coupled human-natural systems modeling for assessing and improving payment for watershed service programs in Veracruz, México

Authors: Alex Mayer*, Michigan Technological University, Kelly Jones, Colorado State University, Heidi Asbjornsen, University of New Hampshire, Jacob Salcone, Colorado State University, Carter Berry, Chapman University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: ecosystem services, conservation incentives, watersheds, socio-ecological systems, and use-land cover change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Balcony K, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Payment for watershed service programs (PWS) are economic-policy instruments designed to provide incentives for upstream landowners to adopt land use activities favoring the provision of safe, reliable water supplies for downstream areas. PWS programs are particularly complex socio-ecological systems because decisions made by an interacting array of social actors- including landowners, PWS program managers, and downstream water users- inherently impact watershed and other ecosystem services (ES). We have developed and tested a coupled human-natural systems (CHNS) model for México’s PWS program in two watersheds in the state of Veracruz. The model is spatially explicit, where land use-land cover (LULC) provides the primary linkages between biophysical and socioeconomic sub-models. A PWS participation sub-model is based on results of landowner surveys and interviews and includes a stated preference model that relates participation to payment level. The biophysical sub-models integrate field data on watershed discharge, water quality, carbon storage, and biodiversity to estimate ES at the watershed scale, as a function of LULC coverages. Using this CHNS model, we explore the potential impacts of alternative PWS program designs on ES tradeoffs and the resulting economic and social implications. Future versions will include feedbacks that will predict potential responses by social actors, such as PWS program managers to changes in ES and social and economic measures of program impact.

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