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Compliance under control: Insights from an incentive-based conservation program in rural Bolivia
Ecological Economics  (IF5.389),  Pub Date : 2022-01-08, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2021.107317
Brooke McWherter, Jonathan Bauchet, Zhao Ma, Tara Grillos, Nigel Asquith, Meagan Rathjen, Andrea Markos

Conditionality is often considered a key feature of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and other incentive-based conservation programs. Critical components of conditionality – monitoring and sanctions for noncompliance – have received relatively little attention. We identified five groups of potential drivers of compliance based on the concepts of material costs and benefits; social pressure; environmental values and beliefs; trust, fairness and reciprocity; and household characteristics. We analysed data on 1823 monitoring visits from an incentive-based watershed conservation program in rural Bolivia. Drivers informed by material costs and benefits were significantly associated with compliance. Specifically, three program design features were associated with higher likelihood of compliance: less restrictive contracts, larger areas under contract, and having been previously monitored for compliance. Other drivers, including sensitivity to social pressure, environmental values/beliefs, trust, fairness and reciprocity, and household demographic and economic characteristics, were not consistently associated with compliance rates. These results suggest that conservation professionals and policy makers have a large amount of control over compliance in PES, and that clear communication with participants about program objectives and conditions and meaningful and repeated monitoring are key elements of successful and effective PES.