Lessons learned from smallholder payment schemes

Using cash payments to incentivise smallholders to protect forests can create risk, and it may be more effective to provide incentives and compensation in the form of secure land tenure, enterprise support and other non-cash inducements. This is one of the findings of a review commissioned by SHARP to investigate factors that affect the long-term success of projects targeted at encouraging smallholders and other community members to minimise deforestation.

Among the other elements of Payments for Ecosystem Services projects that lead to positive outcomes are: using participatory approaches and having an effective local partner; understanding the local context; and establishing processes for capturing baseline data and managing risks.

Payments for Ecosystem Services, or PES, projects are designed to provide incentives for people and organisations to protect environmental services in an area. Authors Helen Cross and Willie McGhee reviewed 28 PES projects that were focused on working with smallholders in tropical forest countries to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity and minimise deforestation. Their report provides a useful inventory of smallholder-focused projects and offers a close look at the design and outcome of seven case studies in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia. They ask what lessons can be learned for future PES schemes but also for other smallholder-oriented initiatives.

The review will be of interest to members of the SHARP partnership and many others concerned with smallholder development and efforts to stop deforestation. Download it here (1.5 MB) or a low-resolution version (770 KB) here.

Image: Participants of a PES scheme in Uganda. Credit: CSWCT.