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Payments for environmental services: lessons from the Costa Rican PES programme

Ina Porras


The Payments for Environmental Services (PES) Programme is one of several instruments addressing conservation issues in Costa Rica. It pays private landowners directly for the positive effect their sustainable land management has on the environment. The Programme is part of a mix of instruments, which includes stricter laws on deforestation, zoning and conservation in protected areas. The product of learning by doing, PES has provided a fertile ground for policy and technological experiments, generating considerable capacity building in the process. Fair Ideas conference, held in June 2012, provided a platform for a prominent group of expositors from different levels to share their experience on PES, from the Minister of Environment, state and NGO facilitators, national and international academics, to farmers and indigenous groups. This document compiles the key points of these presentations, and provides links to the organisations they represent.

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Porras, I. (Ed.) (2013). Payments for environmental services: lessons from the Costa Rican PES Programme. Presented at the Fair Ideas Conference, 16-17 June 2012,Rio de Janeiro. IIED, London.

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Payments for environmental services (also known as payments for ecosystem services or PES), are payments to farmers or landowners who have agreed to take certain actions to manage their land or watersheds to provide an ecological service. As the payments provide incentives to land owners and managers, PES is a market-based mechanism, similar to subsidies and taxes, to encourage the conservation of natural resources.

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Markets and payments for environmental services