Incorporating alternative values to design environmentally effective and socially equitable incentive-based conservation programs

Authors: Zhao Ma*, Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Jonathan Bauchet, Purdue University, Ricardo Godoy, Brandeis University, Claudia Radel, Utah State University, Laura Zanotti, Purdue University, Meagan Rathjen, Purdue University, Brooke McWherter, Purdue University, Will Munger, Utah State University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Latin America
Keywords: watershared, reciprocal watershed agreement, payments for ecosystem services, watershed conservation, monitoring, intrinsic motivation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Alternative values come into play in market-based conservation programs in two ways. First, while some scholars and practitioners believe that the goal of market-based conservation programs should be to achieve socially-efficient natural resource allocations, others argue that these programs should also support values of well-being, equity, and community empowerment. Second, in the case of payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs, while some scholars consider conditionality—monitoring compliance and sanctioning detected non-compliance—a defining feature, others argue that natural resource managers (in the Global South) possess intrinsic motivations for conservation and agency for self-monitoring and sustainable conservation practices. Our paper draws from a survey of PES and PES-like program administrators in four Tropical Andes countries and a survey of 527 households from 40 communities in Bolivia where an incentive-based conservation program (i.e., watershared) has been implemented. We find that while producing ecosystem services is the primary goal of PES and PES-like programs, many program administrators value the importance and potential for their programs to generate social outcomes such as supporting local well-being. We also find that both participants and non-participants in the watershared program possess intrinsic motivations for conservation and are subject to descriptive and injunctive norms associated with cattle management and water quality, which may be capitalized to facilitate community self-monitoring and compliance. As such, our paper suggests that alternative socio-natural values are often present in the context of incentive-based conservation programs and can be incorporated into program design and implementation to generate not only environmental but social outcomes.

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