This paper explores lessons learned from the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) as a precursor to Payment for Environmental Services (PES). It focuses on the implementation, performance, outcomes and possible adaptations that might be of use for PES.
The authors argue that there is more in common between the CAMPFIRE and PES approaches than is commonly acknowledged. The actors and language may be different, but many of the ideas and principles are the same. More generally, community conservation and PES both play out in analogous institutional landscapes, and are subject to similar external pressures. A number of lessons can be drawn from the CAMPFIRE experience that might be important for the emerging PES schemes. These include:
- form should follow function - there is too often the tendency to design projects for rural communities, including establish organisational structures and institutional arrangements, before there is any real functioning for such features to serve;
- flexibility - there is too much uncertainty to make it practical to adopt rigid rules and procedures. The evident flexibility of CAMPFIRE is one of its major strengths, since it has allowed considerable variation in functioning to emerge;
- promoting diversity - although each CAMPFIRE initiative is based on the same fundamental plan laid down within a common regulatory environment, they all differ importantly in the details of their development and outcomes to date.