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Generating New PES Institutions and Increased Impacts in Mexico: a framed field experiment on coordination and sanctions in Matching Funds sites

Alexander Pfaff, Luz Rodriguez, Elizabeth Shapiro
Draft working paper, Duke University (part of a project supported by The Tinker Foundation).

PDF link icon While states pay landowners in the big payment-for-ecosystem-services (PES) programs, PES can be locally organized. Downstream actors, e.g., may offer incentives to upstream. Even − or especially? − with local organization, though, there may be negative reactions to the increased monitoring and sanctioning of behavior required to increase PES impact. Mexico’s forest agency (CONAFOR) has had limited average impacts per PES contract in its direct state payments but also, since 2008, a novel policy to help create new local PES. The Fondos Concurrentes (Matching Funds) program solicits applications − initiated by varied partners − that must include agreement between upstream and downstream groups. We consider the creation of local PES programs, involving coordination by those groups to establish a new institution, and effects of permitting sanctions on upstream behaviors. We use PES framing (services go downstream, payment up) of the contributions in a new assurance game that, in real time, links the groups − each of which confronts free riding. After our field pilot, we recruited 240 downstream and 240 upstream Fondos participants from Xalapa (Veracruz State), Merida (Yucatan State) or Cancun (Quintana Roo State). Initial trust-game behaviors align with participant perceptions and predict baseline giving in assurance (which is significant, despite a zero equilibrium, perhaps due to our sample). For upstream providers, i.e., those who get sanctioned, the threat and the use of sanctions increase contributions. Any ‘motivation crowding’ is not dominant during these sanctions. Downstream users contribute less when offered the option to sanction − as if that option signals an uncooperative upstream − then contributions rise in line with complementarity.

Protected Areas’ Impacts Upon Land Cover Within Mexico: the need to add politics and dynamics to static land-use economics

Alexander Pfaff, Franciso Santiago-Avila, Lucas Joppa
Draft working paper, Duke University.

PDF link iconIncentives for REDD − i.e., reductions in emissions from deforestation and degradation − motivate application of static economic modeling of land use to assess heterogeneity over space in the business-as-usual baselines for land use required for forest policy evaluations. That some forested locations face higher threats is now recognized as an important factor in the evaluation and targeting of policy. Given this point − now often included in impact evaluation via matching − further theory is required to explain variations in policy impact. We show this need by analyzing impacts of Mexican protected areas (PAs) on land cover. Applying static land-use economics improves the baselines for our impact estimation and we find, on average, a 2.5% lower rate of 2000-05 natural land cover loss within the PAs. Stricter PAs appear closer to cities and have greater impact (4.4%) than less strict (2.3%), yet static baselines do not explain why. Nor do they explain why impact gradients by type differ across countries, or why PA spillovers vary across states − as we show for Mexico. We suggest an initial political economy model of impacts by type of PA and also provide examples of the economic and political dynamics required to understand PAs’ spillovers.

Sequenced Road Investments & Clearing Of The Mayan Forest

Dalia Amor Conde, Alexander Pfaff
Draft working paper, Duke University.

PDF link iconThe Selva Maya is an important tropical forest, the second biggest in the Americas after the Amazon and the largest continuous forest patch of the ‘Mesoamerican hotspot’ which contains around 7% of the world species . Located across Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, Selva Maya is subject to different policy, cultural and historical influences and to a grand road expansion program that will intersect its core . Given its biological importance and the environmental services it provides at a local and global scale, this region is a good case to consider road impacts. We focus on four questions: 1) what are the short and medium term effects of paved and unpaved roads investments on deforestation?; 2) do these impacts differ when roads are placed in areas with existing pressure vs. in less developed locations?; 3) do the effect of non-road drivers also vary with development contexts? We might expect that roads in previously pristine areas a new road will be the dominant predictor; and 4) using a different measure of context, do road impacts vary across the countries?


Paper Park Performance: Mexico’s Natural Protected Areas in the 1990s

Allen Blackman, Alexander Pfaff, Juan Robalino
Global Environmental Change 31 (2015) pp50-61

PDF link iconAlthough developing countries have established scores of new protected areas over the past three decades, they often amount to little more than ‘‘paper parks’’ that are chronically short of the financial, human, and technical resources needed for effective management. It is not clear whether and how severely under-resourced parks affect deforestation. In principle, they could either stem it by, for example, creating an expectation of future enforcement, or they could spur it by, for example, creating open access regimes. We examine the effect of Mexico’s natural protected areas (NPAs) on deforestation from 1993 to 2000, a period when forest clearing was rampant and the vast majority of protected areas had negligible resources or management. We use high-resolution satellite data to measure deforestation and (covariate and propensity score) matching to control for NPAs’ nonrandom siting and for spillovers. Our broad finding is that Mexico’s paper parks had heterogeneous effects both inside and outside their borders. More specifically, at the national-level, we cannot reject the null hypothesis that NPAs had zero average effect on clearing inside their borders, nor can we reject a similar hypothesis for spillover clearing outside their borders. However, we can detect statistically and economically significant inside- and outside-NPA effects for certain geographic regions. Moreover, these effects have different signs depending on the region. Finally, we find that NPAs with certain characteristics were more effective at stemming deforestation inside their borders, namely, those that were large, new, mixed use, and relatively well-funded. Taken together, these results suggest that paper parks have the potential to either reduce or exacerbate tropical deforestation and highlight the need for further research on the conditions that lead to each outcome.