USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)

First Advisor

Thesis Director: Christopher Meindl, Ph.D. Professor, Environmental Science, Policy, and Geography College of Arts and Sciences


University of South Florida at St. Petersburg



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With the world facing an uncertain environmental future, many governments are deploying alternative conservation strategies to mitigate the worst effects of environmental degradation. Particularly important to human survival is the conservation of land and water resources. Efficient use of land and water can provide people the resources they need for survival while reducing the loss of biodiversity, pollution, human health risks, and carbon emissions that could accelerate climate change. Traditional conservation strategies include buying and preserving land by public or private organizations, establishment of flora and fauna rehabilitation facilities, and the rationing of natural goods. With environmental crises becoming increasingly common, different kinds of conservation models are necessary. Payment for environmental service (PES) programs are voluntary incentives that pay landowners in exchange for conserving, maintaining, or producing an ecosystem service. PES programs are renowned for their potential effectiveness as a conservation and remediation measure, but few countries have implemented these programs on a large scale (Wunder, 2008). Despite its status as a developing country, Costa Rica is regarded as having the most successful PES example (Pagiola, 2008). On the other hand, Florida, the third most populated state in one of the richest countries in the world, struggles to implement both state and federal programs. This paper aims to compare Costa Rica and Florida's environmental service payment programs and discuss the factors leading to each. Expected results are that Costa Rica's past environmental crises, international standing, favorable political structure and internalization of climate change directly allow for the program's success, while Florida's governance, real estate industry, and market-based hurdles prevent a statewide program from taking hold.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Honors Program University of South Florida, St. Petersburg April23rd, 2018

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