Promoting Forest Conservation in the Peruvian Amazon: A Stakeholder Analysis of Incentive Mechanisms

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The Madre de Dios region of Peru is significant for its wealth of biodiversity and natural resources that sustain the local economy and provide ecosystem services. Current demand for extractive land uses (e.g., gold mining) favors land conversion over conservation, leading to questions about how to sustain this ecosystem. The purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between landholder preferences for land use and evaluate the potential to motivate landholders to support forest conservation. Using secondary data from a household survey of 400 landholders, we examined relationships between landholder characteristics and willingness to conserve for cash and services (e.g., healthcare, education). Additionally, respondents ranked preferences for these services. The population was generally not well-educated and lacked health insurance and bank accounts. Most landholders expressed a willingness to participate in forest conservation in exchange for payments (78%) and for services (76%). Of the three main types of livelihoods examined, farmers ranked education and health insurance higher than Brazil nut harvesters. Wood harvesters did not differ significantly in their preferences. Landholders demonstrated very little practical differences in their preferences for services indicating that the potential for successful forest conservation programs in the region exists, despite the increased demand for extractive land uses. Although financial payments are common tools used to promote conservation, the high preferences for health insurance and education indicate that social outcomes may be an effective inducement for conservation programs. However, additional research is required to understand factors that influence participation in such programs.

Undergraduate Research Project
biodiversity conservation, brazil nut harvesting, conservation incentives, direct payments, decision making, economic land concessions, gold mining, land use conversion, Madre de Dios, Peru, small-scale farming, socio-cultural services, timber harvesting, value-transfer mechanisms