Policy lessons from spatiotemporal enrollment patterns of payment for ecosystem service programs in Argentina

Mauricio M. Núñez-Regueiro, Josh Hiller, Lyn C. Branch, Cristina Núñez Godoy, Sharmin Siddiqui, José Volante, José R. Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Payment for ecosystem services schemes (PES) are lauded as a market-based solution to curtail deforestation and restore degraded ecosystems. However, PES programs often fail to conserve sites under strong long-term deforestation pressures. Underperformance, in part, is likely due to adverse selection. Spatial adverse selection occurs when landowners are more likely to enroll parcels with low deforestation pressure than parcels with high deforestation pressure. Temporal adverse selection arises when parcels are enrolled for short time periods. In both cases, financial resources are allocated without having a sizeable impact on long-term land use change. Improving program performance to overcome these shortcomings requires understanding attributes of landowners and their parcels across large scales to identify spatial and temporal enrollment patterns that drive adverse selection. In this paper, we examine these patterns in Argentina's PES program in Chaco forest, a global deforestation hotspot. Our study area covers 252,319 km2. Results from multinomial logistic regression models showed that large parcels of enrolled land and parcels owned by absentee landowners exhibit greater evidence of spatiotemporal adverse selection than smaller parcels or parcels owned by local landowners. Furthermore, parcels managed under land use plans for conservation and restoration are more likely to be associated with adverse selection than parcels managed for financial returns such as harvest of non-timber forest products, silviculture, and silvopasture. However, prior to recommending that PES programs focus on land uses with higher potential earnings, a greater understanding is needed of the degree to which these land uses meet ecological and biodiversity goals of PES programs. We suggest that increased spatial targeting of enrollment, along with enrollment of local landowners and further incentives for land uses that support conservation and restoration, could promote long-term conservation of forest lands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104596
JournalLand Use Policy
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Adverse selection
  • Chaco
  • Forest conservation
  • Market-based strategies
  • Natural resource policy
  • Payment for ecosystem services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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