Assessing Landowner Level Costs for Riparian Forest Buffer System Adoption on Farms in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Smith, Clifton Lee Jr.
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Riparian Forest Buffer Systems contribute to non-point source pollution control and improve the physical and trophic qualities of streams. There is a limited understanding of the full range of costs incurred when implementing a RFBS. Establishment costs will vary with the site characteristics. The amount of forgone income will vary with the current land-use. RFBS enterprises may yield returns that partially or fully offset forgone income. Section A discusses the physical characteristics and functions of RFBS in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Section A argues that RFBS design and site characteristics alter the physical ability of RFBS to produce environmental services. Altering design specifications may come at little environmental loss but might greatly reduce landowner costs. Section B describes a decision support system that can provide landowners and policy makers with financial information on the site specific changes in costs that occur as RFBS designs are altered. Section C utilizes the decision support system software to simulate the common design and site characteristics found within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed of Virginia. Generalizations are drawn concerning reduction efficiencies of a RFBS based on the physical characteristics of the regions. Section D discusses government policies and incentive programs, as well as additional private income opportunities, that may influence the cost and adoption of RFBS. Findings revealed a range of annual per acre cost of adoption between $140.09 rising to a positive return of $124.79, depending on assumptions of site characteristics, land-use, and supplemental financial incentives.
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