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Can payments for forest environmental services help improve income and attitudes toward forest conservation? Household-level evaluation in the Central Highlands of Vietnam
Forest Policy and Economics  (IF3.673),  Pub Date : 2021-09-02, DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102578
Van Truong Pham, Saowalak Roongtawanreongsri, Thong Quoc Ho, Phuong Hanh Niekdam Tran

Payments for environmental services (PES) are considered an effective approach to solving both environmental and socio-economic issues. However, there lies a significant research gap in the context of their impact on income and attitudes toward conservation. Using household survey data and the propensity score matching technique, this study evaluates the impact of the payments for forest environmental services (PFES) program on household income and attitudes toward forest conservation in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The findings of this study reveal that the PFES program has positive effects on both. In terms of income, PFES effects are statistically significant for income sources, total income, and income per laborer but insignificant for income per productive landholding and production cost. The PFES program has also significantly influenced households' behavioral responses in terms of the following indicators: stopping deforestation activities, committing to the protection of forests, informing the government of illegal activities related to forests, and advising others against deforestation. Moreover, there is evidence supporting that the PFES program significantly affects households' cognitive responses. This improvement is facilitated through enhancing their knowledge of policies related to forest conservation by individuals and organizations that are responsible for forest conservation in general as well as for the local forest situation. Additionally, the PFES program has significantly enhanced households' satisfaction with forest protection activities, their interest in participating in policies or projects to conserve the forests, and their concern about local forest information.