Cash for conservation: Do payments for ecosystem services work?
Payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs make payments to land owners for the ecosystem services such as clean water or carbon storage that their land provides to create incentives to protect the land. One of the objectives of these projects is to promote local economic development along with conservation outcomes. Researchers have sought to critically assess the assumptions behind these programs and their implementation.
Research Goals & Methods
The authors of this paper reviewed studies which have measured the effectiveness of PES programs. They conducted a search on Google Scholar and identified 38 studies among the first 1000 results which examined the effectiveness of PES programs. They sought to understand whether PES programs have had positive environmental, social, or economic impacts.
Conclusions & Takeaways
Most studies examined impacts on deforestation and degradation while measuring environmental outcomes, equity and marginalization while measuring social impacts, and whether participants receive payments that covered the opportunity cost of conservation while measuring economic impacts. The authors found that PES programs have had a small effect on addressing deforestation, supplementing reforestation and increasing forest carbon stocks. Their impact on improving social or economic outcomes was less evident. The authors suggest that more experimental studies such as randomized control trials may provide stronger evidence of environmental, social, and economic impacts.
Gaworecki, M. and Burivalova, Z. 'Cash for conservation: Do payments for ecosystem services work?' Mongabay, 12 October, 2017.