Resource Details

Payments for environmental services in Latin America as a tool for restoration and rural development

Literature: Journal Articles

Montagnini, F., & Finney, C. 2011, "Payments for environmental services in latin America as a tool for restoration and rural development", Ambio, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 285-297.

Contact Info

Corresponding Authors:; 


  • School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, 370 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, United States
  • Nature Conservancy, Rua Joao Moura 444, São Paulo, SP, Brazil



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Species Info

  • Vochysia guatemalensis
  • Dipteryx oleifera
  • Terminalia Amazonia
  • Hieronyma alchomeoides


  • Two Payments for Environmental Services (PES) projects are assessed: 1) a bundled PES system in forestry projects in Costa Rica, and 2) the Regional Integrated Silvopastoral Approaches to Ecosystem Management Project in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Colombia.
  • The first project based PED on the provision of four different environmental services (carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, watershed protection, and aesthetic improvements and/or maintenance of the landscape) within the same plot of land.
  • The second project implemented PES proportional to carbon sequestration and biodiversity outputs by participants.
  • Costs of plantation implementation and management were examined and compared to both PES and estimated income from timber sales, showing that, while PES payments are lower than the costs of starting and maintaining a plantation, income from plantation products are favorable in the long run.
  • PES may offer an early return on the plantation investment, making the establishment costs more affordable to small farmers.
  • The authors indicate that in Costa Rica, the following species have exhibited good growth rates and high carbon stocks: Vochysia guatemalensis,Dipteryx oleifera, Terminalia amazonia, and Hieronymaalchomeoides.
  • Quantifying environmental services is potentially distorted by choice of which environmental service is considered and the indicators used.
  • Bundling multiple environmental services can avoid plantations planted to meet only one end (e.g. fast-growing monoculture plantations which favor carbon sequestration over biodiversity), may offer a more comprehensive and, thus, larger payment to landowners, and is likely a more equitable option for the rural poor.
  • The authors are optimistic about the potential of PES for incentivizing the restoration of degraded lands, but they exert that there are many potential challenges including: high transactions costs, imperfect indicators of success, poorly established markets and systems for implementing PES, and conflict between economic efficiency, environmental conservation, and equitability.


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