CATIE began research on payments for environmental services

EfD-CA at CATIE began study sponsored by The Tinker Foundation

Environment for Development initiative in Central America (EfD-CA) has started a two-year study on the subject of payments for environmental services (PES). The study is made possible through funding from The Tinker Foundation and is coordinated by EfD-CA at CATIE. The foundation selects proposals that promote the exchange of information on specific issues of policy, governance and environmental economics.

Francisco Alpízar, leader of EfD-CA initiative at CATIE, said it is difficult to obtain funding for research; therefore, it is very commendable to achieve these financial resources and be recognized as a program that competes on equal terms with universities and research centers in the United States.

According to information provided by EfD-CA experts, the behavioral responses of people who receive PES and people who do not receive these payments will be studied to evaluate how different selection rules (which determine who receives the payment and why) can affect them. Another aspect that will be analyzed is whether or not the allocation of PES achieves an additional impact to the one that could be achieved if the payment is not made.

Anna Nordén, Ph.D. candidate from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and EfD-CA researcher at CATIE, mentioned that this research goes beyond pointing out aspects such as how much deforestation has been avoided with these payments.

"The selection (who receives the payment and why) can be perceived in different ways, hence the need to learn about the behavior of forest owners," noted Nordén. "We want to focus on new elements related to decision-making, both by the owners of the land as well as by people responsible for PES programs.”


The EfD-CA team indicated that Costa Rica has limited funds to pay to all stakeholders interested in PES, hence the importance of studying their behavior and elements for decision-making. The environmental-economic approach research will apply laboratory experiments to look for a more general behavior pattern and will review data of PES in Costa Rica that will be integrated into field experiments. Once the methodology is proven, it is expected to be extrapolated to other systems of payment for ecosystem services in the region.


According to the proposal, EfD-CA initiative at CATIE hopes to work closely with Costa Rican institutions such as the National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO) and the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET), since both institutions may benefit from the study. It is also working with Dr. Alvaro Umaña, Costa Rican ambassador in the Convention on Climate Change, and an interdisciplinary team in Mexico, in order to have greater opportunities for political incidence.

The Costa Rican Environmental Services Payments Program (ESPP), based on the creation of Forest Law No.7575 and its ruling in 1996, is a financial recognition that Costa Rica makes, through FONAFIFO, to owners of forests and forest plantations for the environmental services they provide, which directly impact on the protection and improvement of the environment.


More information

Francisco Alpízar
Coordinator and researcher, EfD-CA, CATIE
Tel. + (506) 2558-2215


Anna Nordén
Ph.D. student, University of Gothenburg
Tel. + (506) 2558-2352

News | 10 November 2010