Environmental conservation in the tropics appears to be on a
new governance trajectory as new policy alternatives aim to manage diverse
ecosystems for varied social and ecological objectives. Amongst the various
policy alternatives, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) has emerged as a
prominent tool to promote ecosystem conservation in developing countries. This research project examines the impacts of
an Ecuadorian PES program implemented on common-property forest lands.
The interdisciplinary research project is co-authored with
Tanya Hayes (Environmental Studies & IPS, Seattle University) and Hendrik
Wolff (Department of Economics, University of Washington). The objective of the
study is to empirically test if and how the payments impacts rural and
indigenous communities’ decision to participate in forest conservation
agreements, individual forest use behaviors, and the resultant conservation
To carry out this research, the study will compare
communities that decided to participate in the payment program with those
communities that chose not to, complemented with twelve in-depth case studies.
Using institutional analysis, statistical modeling, Geographic Information
Systems (GIS) and qualitative methods, the study will assess the rural land-use
decisions in the context of a set of biophysical, institutional, socio-economic
and cognitive factors.
The project results will be critical for improving public
policy on forest sustainability, gaining insights on land-use decision
processes from marginalized groups, and fomenting links between scientific
discovery, undergraduate student research, and practical policy applications.
article examining the factors that influence community participation in PES
programs will be submitted by summer 2014.