Payments for Ecosystem Services to Reduce Deforestation in Communal Forestland in Liberia

Researchers will design and evaluate a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program to compensate communities in Liberia for conserving collective forestland. PES offers compensation for conserving forests, helping to mitigate climate change without depriving already low-income households of their livelihoods. It has been shown to curb deforestation on private land. The project will evaluate a PES program for communal property in Liberia. The innovation is to include both conservation and governance conditions in the PES contract. With communal property, it is difficult to target and calibrate payments to households. The most scalable and contextually appropriate solution in Liberia relies on local community leadership to allocate payments within communities. Local leadership has superior information about households’ varying demand for forest use and the value of forest resources. Yet, leaders are not elected, and accountability is variable. Leaders may hoard funds and use coercion, rather than compensation, to meet conservation targets. In this study, researchers will add a governance condition to the contract to compel leaders to redistribute payments to households.

RFP Cycle:
Fall 2022
  • Alexandra Hartman
  • Darin Christensen
  • Cyrus Samii
  • Avi Ahuja
  • Pilot project