Scaling up Payments for Watershed Services: Recommendations for Increasing Participation in Watershed Conservation Among Non-Industrial Private Forest Landowners in the Sebago Lake Watershed, Maine (2012)

Client Organization: 
World Resources Institute
Project Location : 
Washington, DC is where the office is located, but the project location will be in the southern U.S.
Summary of Project Idea: 

This project seeks to inform the development of a Payment for Watershed Services (PWS) scheme in Southeast Maine by examining the system of incentives needed to encourage private forest owners to adopt conservation best management practices that enhance water quality downstream. Integrating conservation priorities, landowner attitudes, institutional factors, and regulatory drivers, this analysis focuses on ensuring the supply of high quality water. This supply-side framework is intended to complement the clients' demand-side efforts to make the business case for investing in watershed protection. While focused on the Crooked River and broader Sebago Lake watershed, which provides drinking water for the Portland metropolitan area, the project approaches this localized study as a specific case to identify biophysical, social, political and economic factors that favor or hinder the scaling up of PWS schemes.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 

Basic to intermediate understanding of the water quality and water quantity benefits that forests provide. Expertise in forest hydrology would be ideal. GIS analysis capability to help layer pertinent spatial information related to which forest parcels are most relevant to downstream users. Policy and regulatory analysis skills related to identifying potential compliance processes that could make the case for a payments for watershed services project, for example existing stormwater management plans

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

WRI brings a wide range of expertise and concrete project experience to help increase the conservation and sustainable management of private forests through payments for watershed services projects. SNRE students will work closely with a number of staff engaged in research.  Through the People & Ecosystems Program, specifically the Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services Initiative (MESI), WRI has emerged nationally and internationally as a leader in providing decision-makers in government, business, and multilateral development banks with information and assessment tools that link ecosystem health with the attainment of economic and social goals. In addition, to providing information, WRI helps develop new markets, economic incentives, and public policies that restore and sustain ecosystems.

As part of the MESI initiative, WRI has been working extensively to align ecosystem stewardship with the attainment of business goals. WRI was instrumental in developing The Corporate Ecosystem Services Review (CESR), a structured methodology that helps businesses manage the risks and opportunities arising from their dependence and impact on ecosystems. Through the CESR, WRI has built an innovative partnership between WRI and leading companies dedicated to advancing business strategies, markets, and policies that align corporate performance and ecosystem stewardship. Through this partnership, WRI is working to connect ecosystem beneficiaries (companies) with sellers (private landowners) of ecosystem services.

Funding Sources: 

We currently have committed funding for this project and may have a small amount of funding for student travel related to stakeholder meetings and/or relevant conference presentations.

State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Peter Adriaens
Contact Phone: 
202 729 7704
Contact e-mail: 
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Dan Cantor, MS/MBA, Sustainable Systems
  • Colm Fay, MS/MBA, Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Emily Levine, MS, Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Matt Harrison, MS, Conservation Biology/ Environmental Policy and Planning/ Sustainable Systems
  • Chris Zwicke, MS/MBA, Environmental Policy and Planning
Project Status: 
Past Project