Astrid Zabel, Stefanie Engel:
Performance Payments: A New Strategy to Conserve Large Carnivores in the Tropics?


ETH Zurich, Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED), Switzerland

Biodiversity, including wildlife, is globally decreasing at alarming rates. Many large carnivores are endangered due to habitat loss, poaching for trophies, and deliberate persecution as consequence of depredation on livestock. Wildlife-livestock conflicts are estimated to be especially severe in the tropics since the soaring demand for land and resources in these countries is in direct competition with wildlife's conservation needs. This development has evoked calls for innovative conservation policies.

In the present paper we explore the novel conservation performance payment approach which for wildlife-livestock conflicts, so far, has only been implemented in Sweden. Conservation performance payments provide incentives for conservation by issuing payments based on indicators of conservation outcomes. Performance payments are a type of payment for environmental services (PES).

The contribution of the paper is twofold. A structural framework of performance payments' design is developed and an empirical assessment of the approach to tiger-livestock conflicts at Bandhavgarh National Park in India, an example where conservation needs compete with humans' increasing demand for land and resources, is presented. The framework focuses on issues of scheme design such as identifying performance indicators, targeting, payment amount and timing, considerations on making payments to groups vs. individuals, scheme duration, and inadvertent side effects. The assessment of the applicability of the performance payment approach to tiger (Panthera tigris) conservation is based on a high"=profile policy workshop, an interview with the park management, and 305 household"=level interviews conducted in 20 villages in the buffer zone of the park. Our assessment of the transferability to India suggests that there is no general restriction on implementing this type of policy in a developing country context.

Keywords: Conservation performance payment, India, Payments for environmental services, Sweden, Wildlife-livestock conflicts


Contact Address: Astrid Zabel, ETH Zurich, Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED)Universitaetsstr. 16, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, October 2010