Efficiency of Payments for Environmental Services: Equity and additionality in a case study from a Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico
Payments for Environmental Services (PES) have been claimed as a more efficient way of accomplishing conservation and development goals than other indirect strategies, reaching their optimum when the buyer pays the opportunity costs of the foregone benefits. Different inefficient situations have been described, like lack of additionality, where payments are given for practices that would have been adopted anyway. Trade-offs between efficiency and equity of PES have usually emerged as well. In this paper we assess the equity, additionality and stakeholders' perceptions of a PES scheme in a Mexican community inside a Biosphere Reserve. We applied structured interviews to all adults, a total of 66 people from 31 households. Our results show a dual response in equity and additionality, depending on land tenure. PES have an egalitarian effect within landowners and landless groups, but it broadens the gap between them. Additionality is low for landowners and high for the landless people in the community, even though the former are the ones with full decision over the land. Although the scheme does not seem efficient under the classical PES paradigm, it is perceived as a reward, reinforcing conservation attitudes even though most of the interviewees claim it to be insufficient.
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