Resource Details

Paying for biodiversity conservation services in agricultural landscapes

Literature: Available at NO COST

Pagiola, Stefano, Paola Agostini, José Gobbi, Cees De Haan, Muhammad Ibrahim, Enrique Murgueitio, Elías Ramírez, Mauricio Rosales, and Juan Pablo Ruíz. 2004. Paying for biodiversity conservation services in agricultural landscapes. World Bank, Environment Department.


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  • This document describes the genesis for the World Bank GEF project from 2002-2007 to implement payments for ecosystem services for silvo-pastoral systems in Colombia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The payments were designed to compensate for biodiversity services – international donor money would be exchanged for the international environmental service of biodiversity.  
  • Background – from 1990-2000 Costa Rica and Colombia saw decreases in permanent crops (due to the drop in coffee prices) and slightly increasing pasture area, while Nicaragua saw growth in permanent crops (due to the end of the civil war).  
  • Types of silvo-pastoral systems:
    • erosion control (trees planted everywhere)
    • cut & carry - grass is cultivated and fed to the cows (instead of free ranging pasture)
    • windblocks & fencing
    • livestock grazes the weeds in a forest plantation
  • Ecological benefits of S-P systems include nutrient pumping, nitrogen enrichment, soil retention, and carbon retention, while economic benefits include diversification.  
  • Authors estimate that conversion of a traditional pasture (pasture with no trees) to a S-P system with some area of improved pasture (trees) and a small fodder bank (high nutrition planted grass) raises yields (but only after ~ 5 years) -- so, payments need to be made in the first 5 years.
  • Perverse incentives need to be avoided, such as farmers cutting the few remaining trees they have in order to qualify for the payments. One solution is payments can be made for pre-existing environmental services.  


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