Selling two environmental services: In-kind payments for bird habitat and watershed protection in Los Negros, Bolivia
Asquith, N.M., Vargas, M.T. and Wunder, S. 2008.
several environmental services from a single area can help access diverse
sources of funding and make conservation a more competitive land use. In
Bolivia’s Los Negros valley (Department of Santa Cruz), bordering the Amboró
National Park, 46 farmers are currently paid to protect 2774 ha of a watershed
containing the threatened cloud forest habitat of 11 species of migratory birds.
In this payment for environmental services (PES) scheme, annual contracts
prohibit tree cutting, hunting and forest clearing on enrolled lands.
Farmer-landowners as service providers submit to independent yearly monitoring,
and are sanctioned for non-compliance. Facilitated by a local NGO, Fundación
Natura Bolivia, one service buyer is an international conservation donor (the US
Fish and Wildlife Service) interested in biodiversity conservation. The second
service users are downstream irrigators who likely benefit from stabilized
dry-season water flows if upstream cloud forests are successfully protected.
Individual irrigators have been reluctant to pay, but the Los Negros municipal
government has on their behalf contributed ~US$4500 to the scheme. The
negotiated payment mode is annual quid pro quo in-kind compensations in
return for forest protection. Predominantly, payments are made as “contingent
project implementation”, transferring beehives supplemented by apicultural
training. With regard to service provision, environment committees and education
programs have increased awareness in downstream communities of the probable
water-supply reduction effect of continued upstream deforestation. External
donors have funded subsequent studies providing basic economic, hydrological and
biodiversity data, and covered PES start-up (~US$40,000) and running transaction
costs (~US$3,000 per year over the last 3 years). The greatest challenges in the
development of the PES mechanism have been the slow process of building trust
between service buyers and providers, and in achieving clear service-provision
Keywords: payments for environmental services,
watershed protection, biodiversity, conservation, Bolivia
Note: For further information about this publications, please contact
the corresponding author, Dr. Sven Wunder (firstname.lastname@example.org)