Asset-building payments for ecosystem services: assessing landowner perceptions of reforestation incentives in Lebanon
Aim of study: Incentivising landowners to supply ecosystem services remains challenging, especially when this requires long-term investments such as reforestation. We investigated how landowners perceive, and would respond to, distinct types of incentives for planting diverse native trees on private lands in Lebanon. Our aim was to understand landowners’ attitudes towards hypothetical Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) contracts options; their likely participation; and the potential additionality they would provide.
Area of study: Highland villages situated within eight of Lebanon’s 20 Important Plant Areas
Materials and methods: Mixed-methods surveys were conducted with 34 landowners to determine past, present and future land-use strategies. Study participants were presented with three differently structured reforestation contract options (or schemes). The three schemes (results-based loan, action-based grant, and results-based payments) differed in their expected risks and benefits to landowners. Qualitative debriefing questions followed each of the schemes presented.
Main results: Although the results-based loan did deter uptake relative to the lower risk action-based grant, results-based payments did not significantly increase uptake or planting area, suggesting asymmetric attitudes to risk. Qualitative probing revealed economic, social (e.g. trust) and institutional factors (e.g. legal implications of planting forest trees on private land) that limited willingness to participate in the results-based contract option.
Research highlights: This study demonstrates the importance of combining qualitative and quantitative methods to better understand landowner perceptions of incentives and risks, particularly in challenging socio-political contexts.
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