What is it about?

Our paper tackles the crucial question of whether payments to forest owners could be doing more harm than good when it comes to long-term forest conservation. While payments for ecosystem services may appear to be a great way to protect forests, some experts fear that they could actually be demotivating forest owners from taking conservation action in the long run. We found no evidence that payments negatively impacted the motivation and likelihood of forest owners to engage in conservation, even after the payments stopped.

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Why is it important?

Protecting the environment has become increasingly important in light of climate change and biodiversity loss. Governments and non-governmental organizations worldwide have implemented payments for ecosystem services as a means to address these issues. The success of these programs crucially relies on making sure that they don't undermine the motivations of forest owners to protect the environment. If these payments end up pushing aside those motivations, these programmes might not work well or could even have the opposite effect. This would be especially worrying once payments stop.


I hope that our research helps to paint a more complete and nuanced picture of the available instruments for conserving crucial ecosystems, such as tropical rainforests.

Tobias Vorlaufer
Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Payments for ecosystem services did not crowd out pro-environmental behavior: Long-term experimental evidence from Uganda, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2215465120.
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