Local responses to design changes in payments for ecosystem services in Chiapas, Mexico

Santiago Izquierdo-Tort*, Esteve Corbera, Alicia Barceinas Cruz, Julia Naime, Paola Angélica Vázquez-Cisneros, Julia Carabias Lillo, Elisa Castro-Tovar, Fiorella Ortiz Rosas, Nuria Rubio, Leonora Torres Knoop, Jérôme Dupras

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are a popular conservation instrument in the Global South. However, little is known about how evolving PES design features affect local institutions and collective participation dynamics. Drawing on long-term field research spanning over a decade, we address this gap by investigating the evolution of PES design features and local responses by community participants in 10 communities of Selva Lacandona, state of Chiapas, Mexico. We show that Mexican PES programmes have shifted their goals over time, progressively adding productive, organisational, and social inclusion concerns to their main goal of forest conservation. We document a set of local responses to such PES design changes, namely: i) efforts to secure sustained programme access; ii) adaptations to local benefit-sharing and participation agreements; and iii) discontinuities in enrolment triggered by specific changes in design features. We also show that participants’ interests and practices align with PES forest protection goals but reflect a partial involvement of the community (or constrained collective action) in conservation affairs. Overall, our findings illustrate the dynamic interplay and resulting (mis)alignments between PES goals, outcomes, and participants’ practices and interests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101305
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Adaptive governance
  • Collective action
  • Payments for environmental services
  • PES
  • Policy design
  • Selva Lacandona


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