Costa Rica’s Payments for Ecosystem Services programme
Costa-Rica’s government-led payments for ecosystem services (PES) programme is probably the most iconic PES example. The programme bundles together the provision of four main ecosystem services: carbon sequestration, biodiversity protection, water regulation and landscape beauty. It makes direct cash transfers to private landowners for five-year contracts for different modalities of forest protection, reforestation, sustainable forest management and agroforestry. Following results from a ‘conservation gap’ analysis (forests with no protection at risk of change), the programme focuses on protecting these areas and improving connectivity between forests through biological corridors. Apart from giving priority to indigenous communities, the social focus of the programme is more of an added-on component that uses a priority filter for applications located in areas of low development. ~Created by legislation in 1996, the programme is a mix of rules and regulations (for example, it is forbidden to cut primary forest) and positive rewards that invite stakeholders to respond to incentives and disincentives. The legal underpinning establishes the structure by which the PES programme secures funding, how it is managed and who is eligible to participate.
This case study is one of several relating to the Toolkit: Ecosystems, poverty alleviation and conditional transfers. To access the full toolkit and other related case studies, please visit the ‘Publications’ section of the IIED project linked at the bottom of this page.