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Dr. Allan Strong is a Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont.
In response to continent-wide population declines in the suite of birds that nest in agricultural habitats, we initiated a payment for ecosystem services program called The Bobolink Project. Beginning in Rhode Island and expanding to Vermont, the project employed a novel approach, where crowd-sourced pledges for ecosystem services were matched with landowner bids. Hay-field owners with nesting habitat for grassland birds were invited to participate in a uniform price auction to adopt “bird-friendly” haying practices in exchange for compensation. Simultaneously, private citizens were asked to engage in an innovative pledging process where funds would be used to compensate landowners. After three pilot seasons supported by a research grant, the project administration transitioned to Audubon Societies and expanded to include Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. Currently the program enrolls 1,000 acres/year and supports over 250 pairs of Bobolinks on enrolled fields in the Northeast. The success of the project suggests that this approach may be appropriate in other contexts where targeted ecosystem services include flagship species and landowner-sellers can enter into contracts to deliver clearly-defined outcomes valued by donors.
Dr. Allan Strong is a Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. His research focuses on the factors that influence habitat quality for birds. Much of this work involves quantifying the factors that influence food availability; although, some of his recent research looks at the effects of anthropogenic habitat (e.g., ski resorts, urbanization, and agricultural habitats) modification on bird populations. His current research emphasis is on grassland bird populations in the Champlain Valley.