The design of biodiversity conservation contracts under uncertainty
This PhD will study the design of conservation contracts. It has a particular emphasis on the benefits and costs of monitoring compliance and consequential provision of rewards or, alternatively, the enforcement of penalties for the landholder and government and non-government conservation agencies.
The use of monitoring and incorporating its outcome into the contract design is expected to enable landholders and conservation agencies to develop more efficient conservation contracts by altering the distribution of risks, costs and benefits to better match the uncertain environmental situation of the contract.
Landholders and conservation agencies are expected to prefer very different models of monitoring compliance, however; so the analysis will involve determining the optimal monitoring for each party as well as society as a whole.
Conservation efforts in broad-acre agriculture across Australia have primarily occurred through voluntary work until recently, when the focus has shifted to agreements and formal contracts. Conservation contracts are predominantly between private landholders and the state or federal government, but private conservation groups such as WWF have also entered the market.
The initial role of these conservation contracts has been to encourage investment in actions and resources, such as fencing and tree planting, on the assumption this will lead to beneficial environmental outcomes for society and the landholder.
The next phase of conservation contracts are expected to pay landholders for the provision of environmental services, such as biodiversity or carbon sequestration. These contracts would require greater clarity about the contract requirements, monitoring of output and the penalties for non-compliance than the current voluntary or action and resource-based conservation contracts.