Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Claudia Radel


Claudia Radel


Mariya Shcheglovitova


Jennifer Givens


Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) have gained traction since the 1990s and are designed to provide cash or in-kind incentives to natural resource managers who alter land management behavior to protect ecosystem services. Conservation programs generally are known to interact with household and community gender dynamics. For other types of cash transfers, recent literature has noted that presence of conditionality (a key aspect of PES) may create or reinforce gender inequalities, which often manifest in household divisions of labor and decision-making where women may be obligated to complete more unpaid work or experience less control over resources.

Based on a Fundación Natura Bolivia (FNB) PES scheme in the lowlands of Bolivia, this thesis examines women’s participation, including barriers to and possible impacts of household participation, gendered incentive choice and reported benefit, and also focuses on conditionality as it relates to intra-household gender relations and equity. Research was carried out together with a larger project using a random control trial (RCT) and household survey (n = 1004) to determine impact of PES conditionality on social equity and conservation. Some landowners were offered standard conditional PES contracts, while others were offered “unconditional” contracts with compensation no longer conditional on desired behaviors. PES participating and nonparticipating households were surveyed.

Results show that knowledge of the PES scheme did appear to be a barrier to participation, with non-participating household respondents, and more specifically, females from non-participating households, significantly less likely to report knowledge of the scheme than their counterparts. Additionally, community meetings were the primary way of dispersing information about the scheme, and females from non-participating households were less likely than males from non-participating households to report having attended the last community meeting. While differences were not identified between participating and non-participating households for almost all of the labor and decision-making variables, some differences were identified when comparing households with conditional and unconditional PES contracts, particularly those variables related to labor allocation. We aim to add to a sparse literature that discusses PES and gender. Improving understanding of PES as gendered is critical, as policy and funding decisions about conservation have undeniable impacts on gender equality.