Poster Paper: Ecosystem Service Markets and How They May Benefit the College of William & Mary

Saturday, April 8, 2017
George Mason University Schar School of Policy

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Aaron Albrecht, College of William & Mary
In this report we explore ecosystem service markets and how they may benefit the College of William & Mary. Our report investigates markets for carbon sequestration, wetlands and streamline mitigation, nutrient credit trading, and transferable development rights, with particular attention being paid to carbon sequestration markets. The College was recently approached with an offer to enter the College Woods into one such carbon sequestration market. We investigated three options for how the College should proceed in light of this offer.

Ultimately, we recommend that the College pursue the holistic sustainability option with Second Nature instead of solely pursuing entry into the carbon sequestration market. Our interview with Colgate University, a participant in Second Nature, reveals that they found significant savings in operating costs by pursuing campus-wide sustainability. This holistic option also entails fostering the participation of faculty, staff, and students into a larger sustainability initiative and mission. Should the College wish to pursue entry into a carbon sequestration market in the future — possibly as part of a holistic sustainability plan — it must first create a formal natural resource management plan for the College Woods. As the uncertainties surrounding ecosystem service markets as a whole may take a decade or more to resolve, we recommend pursuing entry into an ecosystem service market only as part of a larger sustainability plan.

The first option entails staying the course and declining the offer while pursuing the creation of a forest management plan of the College Woods. This option results in no revenue gains. The second option is either accepting the current offer from a company seeking carbon offsets, or declining it in favor of entry into a voluntary carbon sequestration market. At current voluntary market prices, our cost-benefit analysis shows that the voluntary market does not generate more revenue from the College Woods than an assumed lump sum of $100,000. The final option entails the pursuit of a holistic sustainability approach via the signing of a Climate Commitment with Second Nature, which provides a path to campus-wide sustainability and possible entry into a carbon sequestration market.