Balancing ecological and social goals in PES design – Single objective strategies are not sufficient

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  • Felipe Benra
  • L. Nahuelhual
  • María R. Felipe-Lucia
  • A. Jaramillo
  • C. Jullian
  • Aletta Bonn
Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are key instruments to foster environmental conservation and, arguably, social development goals. PES are, however, commonly designed based on a single environmental objective (e.g., conservation of native forest areas), and expected to simultaneously fulfil social goals which are rarely evaluated. Thus, to meet social goals, PES design needs to transcend single environmental objectives. Here, we evaluate the performance of three PES strategies composed of different targeting criteria. The strategies were (1) conserving native forest cover, (2) production of a specific ecosystem service (ES) based on a single ecological objective and (3) production of a specific ES based on multiple social and ecological objectives. We illustrate the performance of the three PES strategies for a forest dominated rural area in southern Chile using a Surface Measure Overall Performance (SMOP) analysis. We evaluate the outcomes of the three strategies based on ten ecological and social criteria, namely ecosystem service supply productivity, threats to ES supply, farm property size, social vulnerability, indigenous status of land tenure, landscape connectivity, proportion of native forest cover, number of targeted properties, number of small-sized targeted properties, and proportion of ES supply. Strategies based on a single objective (1 and 2) resulted in higher scores for the criteria landscape connectivity and ES productivity, while failing to improve social goals by targeting mainly large non-indigenous properties. In contrast, the multiple-objective strategy (3) achieved a better balance between ecological and social criteria and targeted mainly small-sized properties belonging to indigenous landowners. Our results show that selecting sound PES objectives is key to achieving a balance between social and ecological goals in forest-dominated rural landscapes threatened by land use change. Relying on commonly employed single objective PES strategies is not sufficient to foster sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101385
JournalEcosystem Services
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was funded by the National Agency for Research and Development (ANID) through scholarship program Becas Chile-Doctorado Acuerdo Bilateral DAAD convocatoria 2017 N° 62170002 and by ANID Chile through FONDECYT grant N° 1190207. We gratefully acknowledge the support of iDiv funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG-FZT 118, 202548816). We thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped to improve the quality of our work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Ecosystems Research - PES design, Conservation and restoration policies, Farm property, Inequity, Forest landscapes