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Costa Rican Environmental Service Payments: The Use of a Financial Instrument in Participatory Forest Management

Miranda, Miriam, Dieperink, Carel, Glasbergen, Pieter
Environmental management 2006 v.38 no.4 pp. 562-571
biodiversity, ecosystem services, equipment, forest management, forests, greenhouse gases, information exchange, interviews, issues and policy, learning, stakeholders, surveys, watersheds
The core element of the Costa Rican forestry policy is a financial instrument called the environmental service payment. This instrument rewards forest owners for the environmental services (the mitigation of greenhouse gases, the protection of watersheds and scenic beauty, and the development of biodiversity) their forests provide. In this article, the experiences with this new instrument are analyzed by focusing on the way interests are represented and access is granted, the openness of information exchange, whether social learning occurred, and whether decision-making authority is shared. The analysis is based on a survey conducted in the Huetar Norte Region and on in-depth interviews with the major stakeholders. The Costa Rican case indicates that financial instruments can be used to share responsibilities and that stakeholders can successfully cooperate on forest issues. It also shows that such a participatory approach is only promising if certain cultural, economic, organizational, and political conditions are met.