Payments for Environmental Services in Latin America as a Tool for Restoration and Rural Development
Two Payments for Environmental Services (PES) projects are assessed in this article: 1) a bundled PES system in forestry projects in Costa Rica, and 2) the Regional Integrated Silvopastoral Approaches to Ecosystem Management Project in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Colombia. The first project based PED on the provision of four different environmental services (carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, and aesthetic improvements and/or maintenance of the landscape) within the same plot of land. The second project implemented PES proportional to carbon sequestration and biodiversity outputs by participants.
Research Goals & Methods
Costs of plantation implementation and management were examined and compared to both PES and estimated income from timber sales, showing that, while PES payments are lower than the costs of starting and maintaining a plantation, income from plantation products are favorable in the long run.
Conclusions & Takeaways
PES may offer an early return on the plantation investment, making the establishment costs more affordable to small farmers. The authors indicate that in Costa Rica, the following species have exhibited good growth rates and high carbon stocks: Vochysia guatemalensis, Dipteryx oleifera, Terminalia amazonia, and Hieronyma alchomeoides. Quantifying environmental services is potentially distorted by choice of which environmental service is considered and the indicators used. Bundling multiple environmental services can avoid plantations planted to meet only one end (e.g. fast-growing monoculture plantations which favor carbon sequestration over biodiversity), may offer a more comprehensive and, thus, larger payment to landowners, and is likely a more equitable option for the rural poor. The authors are optimistic about the potential of PES for incentivizing the restoration of degraded lands, but they exert that there are many potential challenges including: high transactions costs, imperfect indicators of success, poorly established markets and systems for implementing PES, and conflict between economic efficiency, environmental conservation, and equitability.
Payments for Environmental Services in Latin America as a Tool for Restoration and Rural Development. AMBIO. 2010;40:285–297. doi:10.1007/s13280-010-0114-4..
- School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, United States
- Nature Conservancy, São Paulo, SP, Brazil