Cost of conservation: payments for environmental services on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica

Hilary Langer, Colby College

Document Type Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Costa Rica has established an international reputation as a leader in innovative environmental policy. Central to the nation's modem conservation efforts is Pagos por Servicios Ambientales, or Payments for Environmental Services (PES). The PES program provides direct payments to compensate individuals for services that their forests provide. This study examines the development and implementation of PES and considers its impact on Costa Rica's biologically rich Osa Peninsula. It determines that PES offers promise for the integration of economic needs with conservation objectives and has been successful at motivating forest conservation in the Osa region. The study concludes that the full potential of PES will only be realized after the program is amended to account for its current shortcomings.