Piloting Models of Payment for Ecosystem Services to Prevent Deforestation in India
Deforestation is a first-order policy concern in developing countries like India along with a lack of adequate resources among owners of forest land, causing a vicious cycle of deforestation and poverty. Payment for ecosystem services (PES) for prevention of deforestation, a conditional cash transfer to landowners as compensation for not reducing forest cover, has the potential to solve this dual problem. While its potential has been tested in a number of developing countries, there are still a number of questions that remain unanswered related to targeting the landowners most likely to cut down trees, the optimal payment frequency and level of monitoring, role of initial subsidies, and the effect of payments to the female household head.
This pilot will potentially provide preliminary evidence and assess feasibility for a future large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT). This pilot will also, for the first time, test the feasibility of a PES program to prevent deforestation in the Indian context with oversight of forest cover in neighboring areas and collecting data on local timber markets. This pilot will ultimately point to the growing body of evidence on the welfare & economic gains and carbon dioxide emissions averted by such a PES program.