Revealing pathways from payments for ecosystem services to socioeconomic outcomes.
ABSTRACT: Payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs have been widely implemented as a promising tool to conserve ecosystems while facilitating socioeconomic development. However, the underlying pathways (or processes) through which PES programs affect socioeconomic outcomes remain elusive, and existing literature provides little guidance to quantify them. By integrating linkages among PES programs, livelihood activities, and socioeconomic outcomes, we develop a framework to reveal pathways from PES programs to socioeconomic outcomes. We empirically demonstrate the framework's operationalization and uncover the pathways that lead to unexpected negative effects of two important PES programs on participating households' income. With improved understanding of the pathways (for example, the programs decreased income through reducing crop production), we provide recommendations to enhance the PES programs' outcomes in our demonstration site and beyond. Our study highlights the finding that elucidating the pathways from PES programs to their outcomes can help identify specific strategies to achieve ecosystem conservation and socioeconomic development simultaneously.
Project description:Payments for ecosystem services (PES) may alter dynamics in coupled human and natural systems, producing reciprocal feedback effects on socioeconomic and environmental outcomes. As forests recover following China's two nation-wide PES programs, wildlife-related crop raiding has been increasingly affecting rural people's livelihoods. We evaluate the feedback effect of crop raiding on people's intention to convert their cropland plots into forests under different PES program scenarios in the Tianma National Nature Reserve. Increases in crop raiding, conservation payment amounts, and program duration significantly increased local people's intention to enroll their cropland plots in future PES programs. Our results suggest that a substantial portion of economic benefit from the current PES programs was offset by the feedback effect of crop raiding promoted by these programs. Therefore, such complex human-environment interactions should be incorporated into the design and evaluation of China's PES practices and other PES programs around the world.
Project description:Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) is increasingly used in developing countries to secure the sustainable provision of vital ecosystem services. The largest PES programs in the world are embedded in China's new forest policies, which aim to expand forest cover for soil and water conservation and improve livelihoods of rural people. The objective of this study is to identify the complex pathways of impacts of two PES programs - the Conversion of Cropland to Forest Program (CCFP) and the Ecological Welfare Forest Program (EWFP) - on household livelihood decisions, and to quantify the direct and indirect impacts along the identified pathways. We fulfill this objective by developing an integrated conceptual framework and applying a Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Model (PLS-SEM), based on household survey data from Anhui, China. Labor allocation (for on-farm work, local paid work, local business, and out-migration) and land use decisions (i.e., rent in, maintain, rent out, or abandon cropland) for participating households are key to understand PES program effects on livelihoods. Results show that the PES programs have only small direct effects but significant indirect effects via the mediating factor of capital assets. Moreover, group heterogeneity analysis shows that lower-income households do not benefit any more than the better-off households from the PES, while households with medium wealth increase dependence on agriculture. In addition, household demographics, individual attributes, and geographic settings differ in their impacts on labor allocation and land use decisions. We conclude that CCFP and EWFP programs would be more efficient in conserving the environment while improving the economic welfare of lower-income households if capital assets were taken into account in the design of compensation schemes.
Project description:Payments for ecosystem services programs have become common tools but most have failed to achieve wide-ranging conservation outcomes. The capacity for scale and impact increases when PES programs are designed through the lens of the potential participants, yet this has received little attention in research or practice. Our work with small-scale marine fisheries integrates the social science of PES programs and provides a framework for designing programs that focus a priori on scaling. In addition to payments, desirable non-monetary program attributes and ecological feedbacks attract a wider range of potential participants into PES programs, including those who have more negative attitudes and lower trust. Designing programs that draw individuals into participating in PES programs is likely the most strategic path to reaching scale. Research should engage in new models of participatory research to understand these dynamics and to design programs that explicitly integrate a broad range of needs, values, and modes of implementation.
Project description:Payments for environmental services (PES) are often viewed as a way to simultaneously improve conservation outcomes and the wellbeing of rural households who receive the payments. However, evidence for such win-win outcomes has been elusive. We add to the growing literature on conservation program impacts by using primary household survey data to evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of participation in Costa Rica's PES program. Despite the substantial cash transfers to voluntary participants in this program, we do not detect any evidence of impacts on their wealth or self-reported well-being using a quasi-experimental design. These results are consistent with the common claim that voluntary PES do not harm participants, but they beg the question of why landowners participate if they do not benefit. Landowners in our sample voluntarily renewed their contracts after five years in the program and thus are unlikely to have underestimated their costs of participation. They apparently did not invest additional income from the program in farm inputs such as cattle or hired labor, since both decreased as a result of participation. Nor do we find evidence that participation encouraged moves off-farm. Instead, semi-structured interviews suggest that participants joined the program to secure their property rights and contribute to the public good of forest conservation. Thus, in order to understand the social impacts of PES, we need to look beyond simple economic rationales and material outcomes.
Project description:As payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs proliferate globally, assessing their impact upon households' income and livelihood patterns is critical. The Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP) is an exceptional PES program, in terms of its ambitious biophysical and socioeconomic objectives, large geographic scale, numbers of people directly affected, and duration of operation. The SLCP has now operated in the poor mountainous areas in China for 10 y and offers a unique opportunity for policy evaluation. Using survey data on rural households' livelihoods in the southern mountain area in Zhouzhi County, Shaanxi Province, we carry out a statistical analysis of the effects of PES and other factors on rural household income. We analyze the extent of income inequality and compare the socio-demographic features and household income of households participating in the SLCP with those that did not. Our statistical analysis shows that participation in SLCP has significant positive impacts upon household income, especially for low- and medium-income households; however, participation also has some negative impacts on the low- and medium-income households. Overall, income inequality is less among households participating in the SLCP than among those that do not after 7 y of the PES program. Different income sources have different effects on Gini statistics; in particular, wage income has opposite effects on income inequality for the participating and nonparticipating households. We find, however, that the SLCP has not increased the transfer of labor toward nonfarming activities in the survey site, as the government expected.
Project description:Payments for ecosystem services (PES) often serve multiple objectives, such as carbon emission reduction and poverty alleviation. However, the effectiveness of PES as an instrument to achieve these multiple objectives, in particular in a conservation-development context, is often questioned. This study adds to the very limited empirical evidence base and investigates to what extent Vietnam's move to PES has helped protect forest ecosystems and improve local livelihoods and income inequality. We zoom in on Lam Dong province, where PES was first introduced in Vietnam in 2009. Changes in forest cover are analysed using satellite images over a period of 15 years (2000-2014). Socio-economic impacts are assessed based on rural household interviews with PES participants and non-participants as a control group over a period of 7 years (2008-2014). Our results show that PES contributes significantly to forest cover, the improvement of local livelihoods, and the reduction of income inequality.
Project description:Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are now a prominent policy instrument for conserving tropical forests. PES are voluntary, direct, and contractual: an ES buyer pays an ES steward for adopting conservation practices for a fixed term. A defining feature of PES is its 'quid pro quo' conditionality, e.g. stewards are paid only if they deliver contracted conservation outcomes. Most studies on PES effectiveness focus on the steward's compliance with contract conditions. By contrast, the buyer's compliance has received scant attention despite the fact that PES programs across the globe have delayed payments, suspended re-enrollment, or shut down altogether. 'Use-restricting' PES depend on the continued flow of funding to pay for conservation; however, institutional, political, and economic factors can disrupt or terminate PES funding. What happens when the PES money unexpectedly runs out? Do stewards continue to conserve or revert to their former practices? We use mixed methods to study equity concerns and forest outcomes of an unexpected, two-year interruption in conservation payments to 63 private landowners residing in Ecuador's Amazon and enrolled in the Socio Bosque program, compared to similar landowners who did not enroll. Using quasi-experimental methods, we found that during the payment suspension period enrolled properties did not maintain their conservation outcomes where deforestation pressures were high (e.g. close to roads). Where deforestation pressures were low, enrolled properties continued to conserve more, on average, than similar properties not enrolled. Findings from 40 interviews and 26 focus groups conducted before, during, and after the payment suspension exposed profound landowner uncertainty regarding their contract rights. Poor official communication and imbalanced PES contract terms reinforced power inequalities between the state and rural ES stewards. Our work highlights the need to plan for financial volatility and to protect participants' rights in PES contract design.
Project description:An increasing amount of investment has been devoted to protecting and restoring ecosystem services worldwide. The efficiency of conservation investments, including payments for ecosystem services (PES), has been found to be affected by biological, political, economic, demographic, and social factors, but little is known about the effects of social norms at the neighborhood level. As a first attempt to quantify the effects of social norms, we studied the effects of a series of possible factors on people's intentions of maintaining forest on their Grain-to-Green Program (GTGP) land plots if the program ends. GTGP is one of the world's largest PES programs and plays an important role in global conservation efforts. Our study was conducted in China's Wolong Nature Reserve, home to the world-famous endangered giant pandas and >4,500 farmers. We found that, in addition to conservation payment amounts and program duration, social norms at the neighborhood level had significant impacts on program re-enrollment, suggesting that social norms can be used to leverage participation to enhance the sustainability of conservation benefits from PES programs. Moreover, our results demonstrate that economic and demographic trends also have profound implications for sustainable conservation. Thus, social norms should be incorporated with economic and demographic trends for efficient conservation investments.
Project description:The potential impacts of payments for environmental services (PES) and protected areas (PAs) on environmental outcomes and local livelihoods in developing countries are contentious and have been widely debated. The available evidence is sparse, with few rigorous evaluations of the environmental and social impacts of PAs and particularly of PES. We measured the impacts on forests and human well-being of three different PES programs instituted within two PAs in northern Cambodia, using a panel of intervention villages and matched controls. Both PES and PAs delivered additional environmental outcomes relative to the counterfactual: reducing deforestation rates significantly relative to controls. PAs increased security of access to land and forest resources for local households, benefiting forest resource users but restricting households' ability to expand and diversify their agriculture. The impacts of PES on household well-being were related to the magnitude of the payments provided. The two higher paying market-linked PES programs had significant positive impacts, whereas a lower paying program that targeted biodiversity protection had no detectable effect on livelihoods, despite its positive environmental outcomes. Households that signed up for the higher paying PES programs, however, typically needed more capital assets; hence, they were less poor and more food secure than other villagers. Therefore, whereas the impacts of PAs on household well-being were limited overall and varied between livelihood strategies, the PES programs had significant positive impacts on livelihoods for those that could afford to participate. Our results are consistent with theories that PES, when designed appropriately, can be a powerful new tool for delivering conservation goals whilst benefiting local people.
Project description:Assessing global tendencies and impacts of conditional payments for environmental services (PES) programs is challenging because of their heterogeneity, and scarcity of comparative studies. This meta-study systematizes 55 PES schemes worldwide in a quantitative database. Using categorical principal component analysis to highlight clustering patterns, we reconfirm frequently hypothesized differences between public and private PES schemes, but also identify diverging patterns between commercial and non-commercial private PES vis-à-vis their service focus, area size, and market orientation. When do these PES schemes likely achieve significant environmental additionality? Using binary logistical regression, we find additionality to be positively influenced by three theoretically recommended PES 'best design' features: spatial targeting, payment differentiation, and strong conditionality, alongside some contextual controls (activity paid for and implementation time elapsed). Our results thus stress the preeminence of customized design over operational characteristics when assessing what determines the outcomes of PES implementation.