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The Journal of Economic Education

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Forest Management -- Planning, Landscape connectivity -- research


Payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs use an incentive-based approach to pursue environmental goals. While they are common policy tools, key concepts determining their efficacy are nuanced and hard to grasp. This article presents a new interactive game that explores the functioning and implications of PES programs. Participants play the role of rural households in a developing country, deciding individually or as groups whether to enter into contracts to refrain from reducing local forests in exchange for payment from a forest-based PES initiative. The game explores topics that include PES programs, climate change, tropical deforestation, cost-effectiveness, additionality, illegal harvest and enforcement, and community resource management. Customizable materials, a detailed reading list, and discussion prompts are provided.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


This is the author’s version of a work. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The Journal of Economic Education, 52(3), 192-217. https://doi-org/10.1080/00220485.2021.1925183



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