Conservation easement landowners' willingness to accept for forest thinning and the impact of information

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After being subject to several decades of degradation, the bottomland hardwood (BLH) forests within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley have undergone landscape-scale restoration regimes through conservation easement programs, such as the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP). Reforested easements offer an opportunity for landowners' adoption of forest management practices to fulfill the program's long-term conservation goals. Using the contingent valuation approach, we examine easement landowners' willingness to accept (WTA) to thin their forest subject to an easement to enhance forest health and wildlife habitat quality, and we test the effect of providing information about the benefits of thinning on WTA estimates. Results from an interval regression model suggest that ownership characteristics like years of ownership, involvement in non-timber activities like hiking and walking, and management characteristics like having past intention to thin, significantly decreased WTA while being an original easement grantor and ownership objectives like legacy increased WTA. The mean monetary compensation required to induce thinning adoption is $11.41 per ton of pulpwood. There is some evidence that the information intervention influences the WTA estimates downward, representing a potential policy instrument to achieve thinning objectives in the conservation easements efficiently.

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Forest Policy and Economics

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