Mismatches between the spatial scales of human decision-making and natural processes contribute to environmental problems such as global warming and biodiversity losses. People damage the environment through local activities like clearing land or burning fossil fuels, but the damages only become manifest at larger regional or global scales where no one pays for them. Payments for ecological services like carbon sequestration can correct for these damages caused by scale mismatches. This paper presents a spatially explicit land-use model to investigate the consequences of scale mismatches for pollination and carbon storage services and examine the effect of payment for only carbon storage services. The model integrates processes in multiple spatial scales ranging from the parcel level used by landowners' decision about deforestation, to the larger scale used by animals to pollinate plants, and finally to the global scale where carbon storage services are supplied. We show that payment for carbon storage services can become an effective mechanism to protect forests at the same time that it creates inequities among landowners in income level. These findings suggest that market-based approaches that focus on conservation of a single ecosystem service may reproduce unequal power relations among landowners.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law