Conflicts between local people's livelihoods and conservation have led to many unsuccessful conservation efforts and have stimulated debates on policies that might simultaneously promote sustainable management of protected areas and improve the living conditions of local people. Many government-sponsored payments-for-ecosystem-services (PES) schemes have been implemented around the world. However, few empirical assessments of their effectiveness have been conducted, and even fewer assessments have directly measured their effects on ecosystem services. The authors conducted an empirical and spatially explicit assessment of the conservation effectiveness of one of the world's largest PES programs through the use of a long-term empirical data set, a satellite-based habitat model, and spatial autoregressive analyses on direct measures of change in an ecosystem service (Giant panda habitat improvement in Wolong Nature Reserve of China after the implementation of the Natural Forest Conservation Program). The improvement was more pronounced in areas monitored by local residents than those monitored by the local government, but only when a higher payment was provided. These results suggest that the effectiveness of a PES program depends on who receives the payment and on whether the payment provides sufficient incentives.
Tuanmu, M.-N., Viña, A., Yang, W., Chen, X., Shortridge, A. M. and Liu, J. (2016) Effects of payments for ecosystem services on wildlife habitat recovery.