Heterogeneous attitudes towards a Payment for Ecosystem Services program
Forest protection and conservation may provide many non-timber ecosystem services (aesthetics, watersheds, habitat, and carbon sequestration) that provide benefits to humans. However, forest conservation may conflict with local landowners or members of the community who prefer to harvest timber or lack alternate income opportunities. Monetary incentives for forests conservation can be established by using payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs. The feasibility of introducing a PES program in Kam Cha i, Thailand was performed using a Choice Experiment survey. Across several econometric models, responses from the survey demonstrate a robust heterogeneity in attitudes towards a PES program. Results from conditional logit, random parameter logit, and latent class estimation models show a large variation in attitudes towards a PES. This variation in attitudes is further explored by relaxing IIA assumptions and introducing dependence across choice responses by including demographic information and other survey response information. Results from this new model demonstrate that frequent forest users are more likely to be unsympathetic to PES programs, regardless of varying levels of income, education, or distance to the forest. Responses suggest that this result is caused by lack of information about PES programs, the lack of credibility with PES programs, and general distrust towards outside agencies. This information may be helpful in constructing and targeting successful PES programs in order to maintain the benefits provided by a healthy forest.
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