Community Supported Ecosystem (CSE): A Market-Based Model to Conserve Private Lands
Fly, J. M., and M. Wavrek.  2018.  Poster Presented at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management.

The “Community Supported Ecosystem” (CSE) is a new concept being proposed as a market based means to generate farm income with the goal of keeping land from being developed. In the eastern U.S., ecosystems and the services they provide are primarily in private ownership. These lands tend to have some combination of cropland, pasture, old fields and forests. Development and land fragmentation, however, is continuing to encroach on these natural systems and farms. CSE’s are a natural evolution of three practices in the east - lease hunting, CSA’s or Community Supported Agriculture, and horse boarding. A CSE is a means by which individuals can support a privately owned ecosystem (farm or forest) by paying an annual membership fee to the landowner in exchange for access to the land for recreational purposes. The value of a CSE would vary depending on the size and nature of the land and available amenities. A CSE with 100 members at a rate of $60/month each would generate $72,000 for the landowner per year. This amount of money can be a difference maker for families wanting to hold on to their land. The CSE members are contributing to the greater good of society (ecosystem services), receiving a direct personal benefit (recreation), and making open space preservation a viable option for the landowner. There are 3 major hypotheses that need to be tested related to CSE’s: (1) There are many people who own significant acreage with agricultural and natural amenities who would like to have an additional income stream to make owning land more sustainable (Supply); (2) There are many people who are not able to buy land because of economic and social barriers who would like to have access to private land for recreational purposes (Demand); (3) There are many people who are deeply concerned about the loss of nature, ecosystems and local farms to development and would see CSE’s as a means to contribute to the preservation and sustainability of these lands (Demand).