Evaluating the Return in Ecosystem Services from Investment in Public Land Acquisitions

Kent Kovacs, Stephen Polasky, Erik Nelson, Bonnie L Keeler, Derric Pennington, Andrew J. Plantinga, Steven J Taff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We evaluate the return on investment (ROI) from public land conservation in the state of Minnesota, USA. We use a spatially-explicit modeling tool, the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST), to estimate how changes in land use and land cover (LULC), including public land acquisitions for conservation, influence the joint provision and value of multiple ecosystem services. We calculate the ROI of a public conservation acquisition as the ratio of the present value of ecosystem services generated by the conservation to the cost of the conservation. For the land scenarios analyzed, carbon sequestration services generated the greatest benefits followed by water quality improvements and recreation opportunities. We found ROI values ranged from 0.21 to 5.28 depending on assumptions about future land use change, service values, and discount rate. Our study suggests conservation is a good investment as long as investments are targeted to areas with low land costs and high service values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere62202
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 11 2013


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