A participatory framework for conservation payments


This paper describes a participatory framework used in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala to analyze the future viability of different conservation measures in a cloud forest area. It presents how in the case of conservation initiatives, participatory developed instruments could provide the incentive for farmers to reinforce or introduce conservation measures in their farming systems to preserve habitats, reduce species disruptions and alleviate poverty. A model's architecture was created with stakeholders of different settings of the region of study. Together, baseline-scenarios and policy-scenarios on land use and income generation were developed. The paper investigates the potential impacts of different policy measures for conservation and poverty reduction through the instrument “payments for environmental services”. Aim was to integrate social, economic and environmental aspects. In the paper, (1) farming systems’ characteristics are described; (2) conservation activities are defined and standardized; and (3) policy recommendations out of different scenarios are given. The paper discusses the possibilities of compensating farmers for the affecting costs of already existing conservation activities by introducing a participatory developed policy instrument that captures the needs of the different farming systems. I suggest that acceptance or rejection of these payments is related to the farm-level strategies for coping with risk. I presuppose that if farmers see an advantage in producing environmental services because it signified an increase in their income and a decrease of risk, they will adopt and augment conservation techniques in their farming systems (0125 and 0130). Main findings show that the amount of on-farm production is very significant for the classification of farming systems. Further, scenario for land use and income changes were seen as main drivers for conservation. The paper concludes showing that including in the modeling the economic disparities of the different farming systems and the active participation of stakeholders supports the acceptance and implementation of this policy instrument to promote agricultural landscapes with biodiversity and watershed conservation.
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