Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Evaluando el programa Costarricense para los pagos de servicios ambientales en la zona de Monteverde



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Publication Date

May 2008


Costa Rica’s environmental services payments or “PSA” (“Pagos por servicios ambientales”) program was created to provide an economic incentive for landowners to conserve forest, thus compensating them for the ecosystem services their conservation activities provide. This study was conducted to evaluate the program’s performance twelve years after its inception. By interviewing 20 private landowners in the Monteverde region, I ask (1) whether certain demographic parameters or property size affect participation, (2) whether the government is effectively informing farmers of the PSA opportunity, (3) what obstacles are preventing potential participants from successfully obtaining contracts, and (4) whether the program is functioning as a viable economic alternative to land uses that degrade ecosystem services. It was found that occupation affected participation, but not education, whether landowners live or work on the property, or property size. Business people did not participate, while conservation organizations tended to, perhaps implying that PSA payments are not a very financially lucrative endeavor for individual landowners. This was supported by the fact that while most interviewees found the program helpful, most would probably be conserving their forest anyway. It was also evident that government agencies are not informing many landowners of the program and that the application requirements, specifically the deed requirement, are a significant barrier to participation. The government agencies involved should reevaluate their application requirements to create an application process easier to navigate for the average small landowner, and should also actively seek out local conservation organizations to facilitate awareness of the program. If these measures are to be worth it, though, the program must also be advertised aggressively as a good carbon offset project in order for it to provide PSA payments large enough to present conservation with PSAs as an economically viable use of private land.


El programa “Pagos por servicios ambientales” (PSA) de Costa Rica fue creado para proveer a los propietarios de un incentivo económico para conservar el bosque, pagándoles por los servicios ambientales que sus actividades conservacionistas proveen. Este estudio fue hecho para evaluar los resultados del programa doce años después de su nacimiento. Al entrevistar a 20 propietarios de tierras privadas en la zona de Monteverde, les pregunte (1) si los parámetros demográficos o el tamaño de la propiedad influyen en la participación, (2) si el gobierno informa eficazmente a los participantes potenciales de la oportunidad de PSA, (3) cuales obstáculos hay que prevengan que los participantes potenciales tengan éxito obteniendo contratos, y (4) si el programa funciona como una alternativa económica que sea viable a los usos de tierra que degradan al medio ambiente.


Natural areas--Management, Conservation of natural resources, CIEE Spring 2008

Palabras claves

Áreas naturales--Manejo, Conservación de los recursos naturales, CIEE Primavera 2008


17 pages

Geographic Location

Monteverde (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





Evaluating Costa Rica’s program for environmental services payments in the Monteverde region, May 2008



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