Private lands have an important role in the success of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The current command-andcontrol approach to protecting species on private land has resulted in disincentives to the landowner, which have decreased the ability of the ESA to protect many of our endangered and threatened species. Herein we define and evaluate, from an economic perspective, eight incentive mechanisms, including the status quo, for protecting species on private land. We highlight the strengths and weaknesses and compare and contrast the incentive mechanisms according to a distinct set of biological, landowner, and government criteria. Our discussion indicates that market instruments, such as tradable permits or taxes, which have been successful in controlling air pollution, are not as effective for habitat protection. Alternatively, voluntary incentive mechanisms can be designed such that landowners view habitat as an asset and are willing participants in protecting habitat. The incentive mechanism best suited for conserving habitat in a given region depends on many factors, including government funding, land values, quantity and quality of habitat, and the region's developmental pressure.
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