A Revealed Preference Approach to Estimating Supply Curves for Ecosystem Services: Use of Auctions to Set Payments for Soil Erosion Control in Indonesia

B.K. Jack, L. Beria, P.J. Ferraro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


To supply ecosystem services, private landholders incur costs. Knowledge of these costs is critical for the design of conservation-payment programs. Estimating these costs accurately is difficult because the minimum acceptable payment to a potential supplier is private information. We describe how an auction of payment contracts can be designed to elicit this information during the design phase of a conservation-payment program. With an estimate of the ecosystem-service supply curve from a pilot auction, conservation planners can explore the financial, ecological, and socioeconomic consequences of alternative scaled-up programs. We demonstrate the potential of our approach in Indonesia, where soil erosion on coffee farms generates downstream ecological and economic costs. Bid data from a small-scale, uniform-price auction for soil-conservation contracts allowed estimates of the costs of a scaled-up program, the gain from integrating biophysical and economic data to target contracts, and the trade-offs between poverty alleviation and supply of ecosystem services. Our study illustrates an auction-based approach to revealing private information about the costs of supplying ecosystem services. Such information can improve the design of programs devised to protect and enhance ecosystem services
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-367
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009



  • environmental services
  • conservation
  • costs
  • information
  • landscapes
  • valuation

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