Wildlife Habitat Benefits Toolkit
Areas of Decision Support
By estimating the economic value of various ecosystem services, the Wildlife Habitat Benefits Toolkit can serve as a decision-support tool in areas such as:
- Assessing whether the existing supply of public-access wildlife conservation lands in an area is economically optimal, or whether additional areas would provide net economic gains.
- Identifying open spaces whose conservation generates the highest benefits, and direct development to locations that minimize losses in open space values/maximize gains from open space conservation.
- Quantifying expected losses in wildlife-associated recreation that result from changes in land use plans and zoning regulations.
- Incorporating (increased) preservation of natural areas into development plans/zoning regulations. Increases in property values translate into increased property tax revenues after the next reassessment of property values by the county assessor’s office.
Conservation Incentives for Private Landowners
- Estimating the value of ecosystem services provided by private lands can help strengthen the case for tax breaks, ecosystem service payments, or other incentive mechanisms for private landowners who dedicate their lands to conservation uses, or for the introduction of wildlife habitat tax credits for private lands. The toolkit can help to establish the size of tax breaks or habitat credits.
- Helping to justify and appropriately scale property tax exemptions or tax credits for agricultural land that provides wildlife benefits.
Establishment of Public Conservation Spending Priorities
- Helping states in ranking or setting priorities for lands that are competing for limited conservation cost share funds, by providing estimates of the values generated by the various lands/properties.
- Quantifying wildlife-associated recreation benefits to help justify the economic importance of a particular wildlife area or activity in applications for federal or state wildlife grants and habitat conservation funds (e.g., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program, various U.S. Agriculture Department conservation programs).
- Calculating the benefit-cost ratios of different and competing wildlife projects.
Identification of Research Needs
- Providing databases that can be consulted for determining whether there are any existing studies that match a particular wildlife or habitat conservation policy or project whose economic benefits are needed. If no similar study exists, the question arises whether there is a need for an original study for the policy/project site.