Barriers to Efficient Decisions about Carbon Farming

A PhD thesis: Funk, Jason and Suzi Kerr. 2009. "Barriers to Efficient Decisions about Carbon Farming," PhD Thesis, Chapter III. Stanford University: Palo Alto, CA.

Policies to reward carbon sequestration on private land have been designed with the expectation that they will stimulate land-use change wherever carbon farming is the most profitable land use. However, the decision process to adopt carbon farming, from the landowner’s perspective, has hidden uncertainties and costs that act as barriers to uptake of this land use.

I use backward mapping to understand the decision factors that landowners face in making rational, efficient decisions about adopting carbon farming. I then evaluate the uncertainties associated with key factors and the impact these have on carbon farming decisions. The results suggest that incomplete information and high risks will reduce the uptake of carbon farming below efficient levels. Instruments to provide information to landowners and limit their risk can remove many of the barriers to adoption. My analysis of these barriers suggests individual solutions to each one, which can be combined and delivered through decision support tools and contract arrangements that limit landowners’ exposure to risks.