Decentralized payments for environmental services: the cases of Pimampiro and PROFAFOR in Ecuador
Wunder, S. & Albán, M. 2008.
Ecological Economics 65(4): 685-698.
Few payment for environmental services (PES) schemes in developing countries
operate outside of the central state’s umbrella, and are the same time old
enough to allow for a meaningful evaluation. Ecuador has two such decentralised,
consolidated experiences: the five-year old Pimampiro municipal
watershed-protection scheme and the twelve-year old PROFAFOR
carbon-sequestration programme. We describe and compare the two cases, using a
common PES definition and methodology, drawing on both primary interview-based
information and secondary data. We find that both schemes have been relatively
effective in reaching their environmental objectives, in terms of having
probably high additionality levels and low leakage effects. A strong focus on
the targeted environmental service and a strong degree of conditionality seem to
be two key factors explaining these achievements. Although neither scheme has
targeted poverty alleviation or other side objectives, both are likely to have
improved PES recipients’ welfare, mostly through higher incomes. We highlight
several observations with more generalised relevance and lessons for the design
of PES schemes.
Keywords: watershed protection, carbon sequestration, forestry, Ecuador
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