Community conservation and a two-stage approach to payments for ecosystem services
Recent revisions to the theory and definition of payments for ecosystem services (PES) challenge the generally accepted dominance of direct incentives provided in a buyer–seller relationship. The revisionist thinking insists indirect incentives and a cooperative, reciprocal relationship are often more appropriate. Those characteristics, however, hark back to the indirect, cooperative interventions that constitute “community conservation”, which PES was originally designed as an improvement over. In that context, this study revisits the criticisms and potential benefits of community conservation. We analyze a case study of community conservation in Peru and find that it supported an uptake of forest-friendly behaviors. We take up the suggestion of a two-stage approach to PES, but refine it based on our results that indicate an important role for cognitive (e.g. education) alongside structural interventions (e.g. provision of alternatives), and a strong role for social consensus to support conservationist behavior. Community conservation can provide these elements in a first-stage of PES to create a social context conducive to conservation. Without creating that context first, PES could destabilize local resource management norms rather than improve on them. With the social context established, however, a market mechanism can be implemented in the second stage to reinforce the new conservationist behavior.
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