Outcomes and Determinants of Success of a Performance Payment Scheme for Carnivore Conservation
This paper presents a first empirical assessment of the outcomes and determinants of carnivore conservation success in Sweden’s pioneer performance payment scheme. Carnivores in northern Sweden depend on reindeer as prey which causes conflicts with reindeer herders. As compensation and conservation incentive, the government issues performance payments to reindeer herder villages based on the number of carnivore offspring certified on their land. The villages decide on the internal use and distribution of the payments. In the literature, it is generally assumed that benefit distribution rules are exogenously given. We extend the literature by developing a model to investigate such rules as endogenous decision. We hypothesize that conservation success is determined by natural geographical factors and each village’s capability to engage in collective action to manage the internal payments so that conserving rather than hunting carnivores becomes villagers’ optimal strategy. The hypotheses developed are tested with empirical village and household-level data from Sweden. The paper concludes that if limited hunting is legal, conservation success strongly depends on villages’ potential for collective action and their payment distribution rule. In cases without legal hunting, performance payments together with penalties on poaching provide sufficient incentives for herders to refrain from illicit hunting. Furthermore, the data reveals that villages’ group size has a direct negative effect on conservation outcomes as predicted by collective action theory. However, there is also an indirect effect which positively impacts conservation outcomes through the payment distribution rule. This result, at least in part, revises the general collective action hypothesis on purely negative effects of group size and highlights the importance of investigating factors driving groups’ internal benefit distribution rules.
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