Livestock grazing, along with agriculture, are key drivers of deforestation and land degradation that subsequently affect ecosystem service provision in the tropics. Although environmental and agricultural policies may curtail these negative effects, information is needed on how specific programs and instruments could be used to incentivize ranchers into adopting rangeland practices to achieve land conservation. We examine what encourages livestock ranchers to adopt more sustainable rangeland practices with various technical and conservation attributes in Colombia’s Orinoco region. First, we analyze a management alternative based on an improved pasture (IP) approach traditionally used in tropical South America, and another practice that promotes silvopastoral systems (SP) that better sustain the long term provision of ecosystem services. Second, we assess the influence that technical assistance and conservation payment instruments can have on the adoption of the IP or SP programs. Using expert-based elicitation, questionnaires, choice experiments, and econometrics, we found that when either SP or IP management alternatives include a complete technical assistance program (CTAP), emphasizing forage or cattle production, the propensity to adopt the conservation focused SP alternative significantly increases. The SP alternative with CTAP for cattle production was valued by ranchers at $290 ha/year and the CTAP prioritizing forage production was valued at $233 per ha/year. Nonetheless, a basic technical assistance program for cattle production using the IP alternative was valued at $128, but when including the CTAP, the value increased to $262. Adopting conservation practices in the form of compensation payments for not grazing portions of their land in the SP was valued by ranchers at an average of $8 and $10 in the IP. Our findings show that decisions to adopt conservation oriented rangeland practices and policies are not strictly based on monetary payments for ecosystem services alone, but also on technical support.
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