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Robalino J.,Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center | Pfaff A.,Duke University
Land Economics | Year: 2013

We offer a nationwide analysis of the initial years of Costa Rica's PSA program, which pioneered environmental-services payments and inspired similar initiatives. Our estimates of this program's impact on deforestation, between 1997 and 2000, range from zero to one-fifth of 1% per year (i.e., deforestation is avoided on, at most, 2 out of every 1,000 enrolled hectares). The main explanation for such a low impact is an already low national deforestation rate. We also consider the effect of enrollment. Predicted deforestation on enrolled versus nonenrolled hectares, and matching analyses suggest an enrollment bias toward lower clearing threat. Enrolling land facing higher threat could raise payments' impact on deforestation. © 2013 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

Garbach K.,University of California at Davis | Lubell M.,University of California at Davis | DeClerck F.A.J.,Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment | Year: 2012

Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) applied to agricultural systems, such as tropical rangelands, seeks to provide multiple services while sustaining food production. However, there is considerable debate regarding the effectiveness of PES programs for changing farmer behavior and enhancing conservation. We interviewed 101 cattle farmers in Costa Rica following the Regional Integrated Silvopastoral Approaches to Ecosystem Management Project (RISEMP) PES pilot (2002-2008). We evaluated adoption of silvopastoral conservation practices-reintroducing trees and shrubs into permanent pastures-that provide varying proportions of public and private benefits; we estimated influence of PES, technical assistance (e.g., farmer training) and information sharing on stimulating their adoption. Our analysis included evaluation of information sharing pathways and accounted for key farm capital characteristics. We found that technical assistance associated with PES had a positive influence on adoption rates, particularly for practices with private benefits of improving rangeland productivity. PES payments alone had the most detectable, positive influence on the adoption of only one type of practice, multistrata live fences, which primarily provides public goods such as biodiversity habitat and carbon sequestration, but are perceived by many farmers to reduce rangeland productivity. Farmers accessed information about management practices through both social and institutional sources. While the RISEMP pilot focused on institutional information sources and technical assistance, future policy design should also include social information networks and consider how farmer-to-farmer communication influences conservation practice adoption. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2009. | Award Amount: 4.33M | Year: 2010

POLICYMIX aims to contribute to achieving the EUs goals of reversing trends in biodiversity loss beyond 2010 through the use of cost-effective and incentive-compatible economic instruments. POLICYMIX focuses on the role of economic instruments in a mix of operational conservation policy instruments. To this end, POLICYMIX will develop an integrated evaluation framework that considers multiple policy assessment criteria biodiversity and ecosystem service provision indicators; valuation of their economic benefit and policy implementation costs; social and distributional impacts; and legal and institutional constraints at different levels of government. This multi-level approach is of paramount importance for effective biodiversity conservation policy given the overlap between ecological systems and systems of governance in practice. In particular, we evaluate the cost-effectiveness and benefits of a range of economic instruments vis--vis direct regulation through command-and-control in a variety of European and Latin American case studies. The suite of selected POLICYMIX case studies aims to provide complementary examples of innovative economic instruments such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and ecological fiscal transfers, and assess the possibilities for transfer of policy success stories, providing concrete learning possibilities for policy-makers. POLICYMIX actively uses advisory boards including land-users, local managers and national policy-makers, who collaborate with our researchers in the feasibility assessments of economic instruments. Based on this science-policy dialogue, POLICYMIX will develop a stepwise framework for carrying out policy assessment using available data, multi-criteria spatial targeting tools and tiered policy selection matrices. The POLICYMIX approach to policy design at multiple government levels is highly complementary with on-going EU ecological research on multi-scale conservation prioritization.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE-2009-3-4-01 | Award Amount: 1.34M | Year: 2010

The objective of the Global-Bio-Pact project is the development and harmonisation of global sustainability certification systems for biomass production, conversion systems and trade in order to prevent negative socio-economic impacts. A functioning and sustainable certification scheme requires reliable data and profound research in order to evaluate impacts of biomass production. Currently, the sustainability debate is faced by the lack of data on socio-economic impacts. Furthermore, mainly impacts of biofuels are investigated and impacts of bioproducts are neglected. Thus, a harmonised certification scheme for biofuels and bioproducts is required. In order to harmonise sustainability certification globally, the Global-Bio-Pact proposal includes partners from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and USA. Emphasis of the Global-Bio-Pact proposal will be placed on a detailed assessment of the socio-economic impacts of raw material production and a variety of biomass conversion chains. The impact of biomass production on global and local food security and the links between environmental and socio-economic impacts will be analysed. The Global-Bio-Pact project will investigate the interrelationship of global sustainability certification systems with international trade of biomass and bioproducts. Furthermore, Global-Bio-Pact will assess public perception of biomass production for industrial uses. This will be completed by the development and test audit of a set of socio-economic sustainability criteria and indicators for inclusion into a future effective certification scheme. Thereby, opportunities and limitations of social issues in biomass/bioproducts certification schemes will be investigated. Finally, the project will elaborate recommendations on how to best integrate socio-economic sustainability criteria in European legislation and policies on biomass and bioproducts. Results of the Global-Bio-Pact project will contribute to the EU energy policy and to the MDG.

Bouroncle C.,Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center | Finegan B.,Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center
Biotropica | Year: 2011

Edge effects along tropical forest-pasture margins are thought to cause a shift toward early successional characteristics of the understory forest vegetation. We tested this idea by sampling vegetation at five forest sites in northeast Costa Rica each of which had edges that were established over 20yr earlier. Four of these sites had been selectively logged. We sampled woody plants >0.2 and ≤1.3m height in 54m 2 within 0.2ha plots at edges (N=14), and at 150m (N=11) and 300m from edges (N=9). Composition and diversity did not vary with edge distance. Abundance of tree regeneration, mainly of canopy and emergent species, increased at edges. Abundance of lianas and slow-growing tree species did not differ significantly across the sampling locations. Weighted mean wood density varied little, with a reduction at edges for canopy species. Palms were less abundant at edges, but not less species rich. At edges, these plant assemblages maintain many of the characteristics of forest interior vegetation, though the changes observed may indicate ongoing functional change. Degradation of forest-pasture edges is not a universal feature of tropical forest fragmentation, and forests with high rates of natural turnover might have a high capacity to maintain themselves within forest edges alongside pasture. © 2011 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2011 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

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