CAMPFIRE and payments for environmental services Peter G H Frost

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Advocates of payments for environmental services (PES) distinguish such schemes from the more common integrated conservation and development projects on the grounds that the payments for the environmental services are direct, more cost-effective, less complex institutionally, and therefore more likely to produce the desired results. Both kinds of schemes aim to achieve similar conservation and development outcomes, however, and tend to function in analogous social, political and economic environments. Given the relative novelty of the PES approach in many places, what lessons can be learnt and applied from earlier initiatives, especially those that might be more like PES than is commonly assumed? In this paper, we describe the evolution over the past 15 years of Zimbabwes Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE). This is an archetypal community-based natural resource management programme that has been widely emulated in southern and eastern Africa. Under this programme, communities using land under communal tenure have been granted the authority, through their Rural District Councils (the lowest accountable tier of government), to market the wildlife in their area to safari operators. These in turn sell the hunting or photographic safari opportunities to, mostly, foreign sport hunters or eco-tourists. The revenue and other benefits are received by the Rural District Councils on behalf of the communities and are generally paid out to them according to an agreed formula, though there are frequent delays and occasional underpayments. Overall, during 1989-2001, CAMPFIRE generated over US 20 million for the participating communities, 89 per cent of which came from sport hunting. Although 37 districts have appropriate authority to market wildlife, only 12 generate revenue regularly (97 per cent of all CAMPFIRE income). Performance varies markedly due to differences in wildlife resources, human population density, local institutional arrangements, and governance. We suggest eight lessons for emerging PES schemes: form should follow function; objectives can change; be flexible; promote diversity; recognise the complexity of the institutional landscape; success and failure are relative; complexity can be distracting; and high uncertainty increases transaction costs. There are three major unresolved issues: aligning the scale of decision-making and management (ideally small) with that of viable production units (necessarily large); organisational complexity due to overlapping jurisdictions among a range of authorities and interest groups functioning at different scales; and the lack of clearly defined property rights and strong tenure among individuals and communities.

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