Much economic analysis has focused on the limitations of regulatory approaches in favor of market-based incentive policies to preserve habitat on private land. Incentive policies include landowner subsidies, tradable development rights, fee-simple (full interest) land purchases, and conservation easement (partial interest) purchases. This paper evaluates these proposals on economic efficiency and other criteria and argues that the literature usually overestimates the opportunity costs of preservation and fails to consider the importance of landowner mobility to economic efficiency. Two-step conservation easements are proposed as an effective alternative when there are many different landowner types, and it is important to protect certain unique properties or ensure large, contiguous reserves. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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