Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural and Resource Economics

Major Professor

Seong-Hoon Cho

Committee Members

Christopher N. Boyer, T. Edward Yu


This thesis is built with two essays on payments for ecosystem services under different objectives. The purpose of the first essay is identifying optimal spatial targets for PES under the multiple objectives of maximizing cost efficiency of ecological benefits, represented by per unit cost of the ecological benefit, and maximizing economic impacts, represented by gross domestic product (GDP). A further purpose is to evaluate the tradeoff between the two objectives. In our case study, the two objectives of a PES program are to maximize the cost efficiency of forest carbon storage and to maximize the program’s economic impacts. Multi-objective linear programming (MOLP), an optimization tool, was chosen to incorporate these objectives as targeting criteria. Results identifying targeted counties with optimal PES distributions will help conservation agencies anticipate regional (i.e., county-level) budget allocations dependent on the relative importance placed on the two objectives. Similarly, projections of regional forest carbon storage and economic impacts from the optimal distributions of payments will help conservation agencies anticipate regional heterogeneity in forest carbon storage and economic impacts and access their tradeoffs.The second essay is for identifying spatial targets that optimally allocate a given budget to achieve the multiple objectives of improving cost efficiency and promoting equity and economic development. We evaluate trade-off and synergistic relationships among the three objectives. Our results will help conservation agencies understand how optimal spatial targeting and optimal budget allocations change with different weighting schemes. Specifically, conservation agencies can optimally target and allocate budgets to counties based on their preferences among the different weighting scenarios with regard to the trade-offs and synergies among the objectives of improving the cost efficiency of carbon storage, decreasing poverty, and increasing economic impact of PES. The case study area in our two essay covers the part of Central and Southern Appalachian Region of the United States.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."