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Forest carbon incentive programs for non-industrial private forests in Oregon (USA): Impacts of program design on willingness to enroll and landscape-scale program outcomes

Rose A. Graves, Max Nielsen-Pincus, Ryan D. Haugo and Andrés Holz

Forest Policy and Economics, 2022, vol. 141, issue C

Abstract: Privately-owned forests in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) are important potential carbon sinks and play a large role in carbon sequestration and storage. Non-industrial private forest (NIPF) owners constitute a substantial portion of overall forest landownership in productive regions of the PNW; however, little is known about their preferences for non-market incentive programs aimed at increased carbon storage and sequestration, specifically by limiting timber harvest, and how those preferences might impact the outcome of forest carbon programs. We simulated landscape-scale outcomes of hypothetical forest carbon incentive programs in western Oregon (USA) by combining empirical models of NIPF owners' participation with spatially explicit forest carbon storage and sequestration data. We surveyed landowners to determine their willingness to enroll in various hypothetical forest management incentive programs that varied in terms of harvest restrictions, contract length, annual payment and incentive payment amounts, and cost-share percentages, as well as the program framing (e.g., carbon versus forest health). We used multinomial logistic regression to model whether landowners might enroll based on program attributes, landowners' attitudes toward climate change and forest management, past and planned future forest harvest activities, and socio-demographics. We found that 36% of respondents stated that they would probably or definitely enroll in at least one of the hypothetical programs they were shown while 21% of respondents refused all programs that they were offered. Our final model of landowner willingness to enroll indicated that higher annual and higher cost-share payments were the strongest positive predictors of whether landowners would enroll vs. not enroll. Landowners' willingness to enroll was not influenced by program framing as either a “forest carbon” or a “forest health”; however, landowner attitudes toward climate change were the next strongest positive predictor of enrollment after annual and cost-share payments. By simulating landowner enrollment in six policy relevant program scenarios, we illustrate that carefully designed forest carbon incentive programs for NIPF owners could have tangible carbon protection benefits (16.25 to 50.31 MMT CO2e cumulative) at relatively low costs per MT CO2e ($3.60 to $7.70). We highlight tradeoffs between maximizing enrollment in forest carbon incentive programs and providing longer term protection of carbon. This research contributes to the literature on the design of potential forest carbon incentive programs and communication about forest carbon management, as well as aims to aid policy makers and program administrators that seek ways to engage private landowners in carbon-oriented forest management.

Keywords: Natural climate solutions; Discrete-choice; Monte Carlo simulation; Family forest owners; Pacific Northwest; Non-industrial private forest (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2022.102778

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