Gund Tea - Katharine Sims: Parks versus PES: Evaluating Direct and Incentive-Based Land Conservation in Mexico
Protected areas (PAs) and payments for ecosystem services (PES) are the top two mechanisms available for countries to achieve international REDD agreements, yet there are few empirical comparisons of their effects. We estimate the impacts of PAs and PES on forest conservation, poverty reduction, and population change at the locality level in Mexico in the 2000s. Both policies conserved forest, generating an approximately 20-25% reduction in expected forest cover loss. PES created statistically significant but small poverty alleviation while PAs had overall neutral impacts on livelihoods. Estimates by individual policy type for the same level of deforestation risk indicate that biosphere reserves and PES balanced conservation and livelihood goals better than strict protected areas or mixed-use areas. This suggests that both direct and incentive-based instruments can be effective, and that policies combining sustainable financing, flexible zoning, and recognition of local economic goals are more likely to achieve conservation without harming livelihoods.
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