Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Meta-analysis of institutional-economic factors explaining the environmental performance of payments for watershed services


Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are a relatively new economic policy instrument, and the factors that drive and explain their environmental performance are poorly understood. Here a meta-analysis of causal relationships between the institutional design and environmental performance of 47 payments for watershed services (PWS) schemes worldwide showed a significant effect on environmental achievement of the terms and conditions of scheme participation, including the selection of service providers, community participation, the existence and monitoring of quantifiable objectives, and the number of intermediaries between service providers and buyers. Direct payments by downstream hydropower companies to upstream land owners for reduced sediment loads were identified as a successful PWS example. No other significant explanatory factors, such as specific type of watershed service, age or scale of implementation of the PWS scheme were detected. The results are highly dependent on the reliability of the input variables, in particular the measurement of the environmental performance variable. Despite efforts to find quantitative information on the environmental performance of existing PWS schemes, such empirical evidence is lacking in many of the schemes studied. International monitoring guidelines are needed to facilitate comparisons, identify success factors and support the future design of cost-effective PWS schemes.

Corresponding author
*Correspondence: Dr Roy Brouwer Tel: +31 20 598 5608 Fax: +31 20 598 9553 e-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J.C.J.M. Van den Bergh , K.J. Button , P. Nijkamp & G.C. Pepping (1997) Meta-analysis in Environmental Economics. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.

F.M. Wolf (1986) Meta-analysis. Beverly Hills, CA, USA: Sage Publications.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 59 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 298 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.