Experimental Session with farmers at Norte de Santander, Colombia
Experimental session with farmers at Norte de Santander, Colombia. Photo: EfD.

Ending Ecoservices Payments Does Not Crowd Out Lab-in-the-Field Conservation

EfD Discussion Paper
1 May 2022

Lina Moros, Maria Alejandra Vélez, Alexander Pfaff, Daniela Quintero


Payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs is proliferating globally but not always with significant impact. Unlike protected areas (PAs), PES compensates suppliers of eco-services, increasing local acceptance. Yet, some worry that PES could reduce conservation in the long run, if the introduction of financial incentives “crowds out” or diminishes prior conservation behavior. We implemented a decision experiment with farmers in rural Colombia to study the effects of temporary PES. We find no crowding out if a PES is introduced and then ended.  Contributions after PES fall back to pre-PES levels, at worst, and if anything, they are higher. Comparisons to controls without PES strengthen these findings, which can inform policy design.

Keywords: lab-in-the-field experiment; pro-environmental behavior; payment for ecosystem services; incentives; Colombia 

Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
EfD Discussion Paper MS1194 DP 22-07
Publication | 10 May 2022