Master’s Thesis Defense - Sara Torres - April 11

Date: April 11, 2016
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Natural Resources RM 130

The Effects on Values, Beliefs and Norms of Payments for Environmental Services:

Evidence from a PES program in Colombia

 Master’s Thesis Defense

By: Sara Torres

Monday, April 11, 2016

2 p.m.

Room 130, Natural Resources Building


 Payments for Environmental Services (PES) are economic incentives seeking to promote conservation outcomes. PES are being widely used around the globe, however, questions regarding their effectiveness in protecting natural resources and their behavioral effects on those receiving the payments are still debated in scholarly circles.

Ganaderia Colombiana Sostenible (GCS) is a program seeking to incentivize cattle ranchers to pursue sustainable practices, particularly silvopastoral systems, in order to protect biodiversity in rural communities in five areas of the country. They are doing so, by providing technical assistance to ranchers within their areas of interest and by implementing a PES scheme in regions of particular interest for biodiversity conservation. Our research was conducted in one of these areas with three different rancher groups: a group getting PES and technical assistance, a group getting technical assistance but no PES; and a control group not getting PES or technical assistance.  In this research, we investigated a) the challenges of implementing a PES program and b) how the payments from the program might affect the values, beliefs and norms of the ranchers receiving the payment.  We found that transaction costs and monitoring were crucial factors in the implementation of these programs. In addition, we found significant differences in the values beliefs and norms among the ranchers receiving PES compared to the other two groups.

The differences in their values, beliefs and norms raises crucial questions to be investigated further, such as whether the PES program is creating these differences, or if ranchers with these characteristics are self-selecting to join the program.

Committee Members:

  • Dr. Maria Claudia Lopez, Chairperson
  • Dr. John Kerr
  • Dr. Thomas Dietz