The effectiveness of incentive-based conservation programs depends on how they influence and interact with multiple motivations of the participants. Here, we studied an incentive-based program for forest conservation in Bolivia – called “Reciprocal Water Agreements” – that mixes material compensations with pro-social and pro-environmental motivations as a way to reduce crowding-out of intrinsic motivations and to increase participation. Based on a sample of 424 households who were offered the program, we analysed econometrically the households’ characteristics that influenced (i) the probability of participation in the program, (ii) the intensity of the participation, measured as the area allocated in the agreement, and (iii) the modality of participation, measured as the probability of participation in the different types of agreements. We found that economic factors favoured participation of better-off households owning property titles, more forested land with lower conservation opportunity cost, more agricultural tools and access to off-farm income. In addition, both pro-social factors – a deeper or older integration into social networks, and greater compliance to social norms of reciprocity, but also weaker institutional trust – as well as pro-environmental factors – including awareness of environmental problems, greater knowledge about solutions to environmental problems and a perceived positive balance of gains and losses in ecosystem services – also influenced positively the probability of participation and the area involved in the program. Finally, we found that participation into more restrictive agreements was enabled by a stronger sense of individual responsibility towards environmental problems and a weaker perceived control over environmental behaviours. Our results highlight the factors that could increase uptake and factors on which the program might focus in order to have a greater impact on pro-environmental behaviours. They also suggest that incentive-based program can be designed to take advantage of pro-social and pro-environmental motivations as strongly as of economic ones.
Economic, pro-social and pro-environmental factors influencing participation in an incentive-based conservation program in Bolivia
20 March 2020