Saving birds with economics (Indicator favorite) : Planet Money : The Indicator from Planet Money It's Encore Week at The Indicator! We're sharing some of our favorite episodes from 2021.

Today, we hear Darian's favorite episode to work on this year. It's a story about one economist's idea to conserve wetland habitats and save birds from losing their homes.

This episode originally came out in July.

Saving birds with economics (Indicator favorite)

Saving birds with economics (Indicator favorite)

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California Rice
(California Rice)
California Rice

It's Encore Week at The Indicator! We're sharing some of our favorite episodes from 2021. Today, we hear Darian's favorite episode to work on this year. It's a story about one economist's idea to conserve wetland habitats and save birds from losing their homes. (This episode originally came out in July.)

The Pacific Flyway is one of the major bird migratory routes in the world. The wetland habitats in California are crucial to millions of birds and hundreds of bird species during the annual migration process. But more and more wetlands in California have been converted into farms. Throw increasing droughts into the equation, and it's an increasingly life-or-death situation for many birds.

Eric Hallstein is an economist who works at The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental organization. The traditional way to conserve wetland is to purchase and restore the land, which can be very expensive.

Eric found a solution to this increasing shortage of wetland for birds: A reverse auction for rice farmers to flood their fields. Farmers calculate their costs to flood the rice fields, and then they submit a bid — how much cash they'd want as payment. The program costs significantly less than buying the land outright.

Since the program started in 2014, they've had huge success at a fraction of the cost. Even this year — during an especially bad drought — farmers came through with reverse bids.

Migratory bird images and sounds supplied by California Rice.

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