Rewards for Environmental Services and Collective Land Tenure: Lessons from Ecuador and Indonesia
Programs that provide direct rewards in exchange for ES offer potential advantages but also pose risks. Case studies from Ecuador and Indonesia highlight key land tenure issues and lessons for future projects:.
The biodiversity-rich Gran Reserva Chachi in Northwestern Ecuador comprising 19,700 hectares of land faces pressures from timber companies and expansion of oil palm plantations with little economic benefits accruing to local communities. GTZ and Conservation International in collaboration with local communities created a biodiversity reserve with payments of USD 5/ ha/ year. Previously, the Subir project of USAID/Ecuador enabled displaced chachi people to acquire formal communal land titles to legitimize the establishment of the reserve. Training of community members in land rights and enforcement was necessary to increase their ability to enforce property rights and exclude encroachers. Illegal logging has declined. Significant investments have been made by partners to mediate the legal process when land invasions occur.
In Lampung Provinces of Indonesia, the social forestry scheme “Hkm” was started to minimize conflict between farmers. In 2004, only 5 farmer groups obtained Hkm permits because the process was slow and costly (four years and cost $55/household). The Rewarding Upland People for Environmental Services (RUPES) project started in 2004 helping 18 farmer groups to obtain Hkm permits, serving as “reward” for forest management and watershed protection. The implementation of the project increased the income of participating farmers by 30% .
The lesson learnt is that PES can be successfully implemented in marginalized communal lands provided investments are made in land titling, providing legal support to defend communal titles and building local capacity to negotiate and monitor outcomes.