You are on page 1of 16

Int. J. Pluralism and Economics Education, Vol. 3, No.

2, 2012


Integral solutions to complex problems: climate change, adaptation policies and payment for ecosystem services schemes Andrs Vargas
School of Economics., Sergio Arboleda University, Calle 74 no. 14 14, Bogot D.C. Colombia E-mail:

Mauro Reyes*
National Natural Parks of Colombia, Sustainability and Environmental Services Unit, Cra. 10 No. 20 30, Bogot D.C. Colombia E-mail: *Corresponding author
Abstract: Payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes have been successfully applied in many countries. This paper argues that such schemes, to be effective must be applied holistically, otherwise if applied narrowly might exacerbate the problem, both globally and locally. This paper gathers data from two sites in Colombia, each of which has implemented a PES, one holistically and the other not, and compares the two. Keywords: resilience; payment for ecosystem services; PES; socio ecological systems; pramos; watershed management; Colombia. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Vargas, A. and Reyes, M. (2012) Integral solutions to complex problems: climate change, adaptation policies and payment for ecosystem services schemes, Int. J. Pluralism and Economics Education, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.173188. Biographical notes: Andrs Vargas is an Economist at the Universidad del Norte in Colombia. His recent research focuses on the interaction between local communities, conservation and biodiversity. Mauro Reyes is actively involved in biodiversity conservation financing. He received his Masters degree in Holistic Science from Schumacher College (UK). His academic interests include holism, history of science and complexity theory.

Copyright 2012 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.


A. Vargas and M. Reyes


This paper investigates the socioeconomic consequences of climate change on the pramos of Colombia. Pramos are high mountain ecosystems located approximately 3,100 and 4,000 meters above sea level; they receive sunlight the whole year with a unique quantity and quality due to its equatorial location, enabling, in addition, a unique vegetation. Colombian Pramos represent 49% of such global ecosystems in the world. In Colombia, the Pramos are strategically important not only for their biological diversity, but they produce 10% of the countrys water supply 70% of Colombian electricity (Reyes and Ortiz, 2010). However, due to climate change it is forecasted that by 2030, approximately 56% of the Colombia Pramos will disappear, resulting in dry seasons with high temperature and high fire danger, which in turn will jeopardise native vegetation (MAVDT, 2010). Those dangers are exacerbated by current mining, agriculture, settlements and stockbreeding practices; and an indiscriminate flora and fauna extraction, which are already creating water scarcity in the most populated zones of the country.1 A PES is defined as a voluntary transaction where a well-defined environmental service (or a land use likely to secure that service) is bought by a service buyer(s) from a service provider(s) if and only if the service provider secures service provision (conditionality) (Wunder, 2005). The basic idea is that the beneficiaries of a service provision compensate the providers upon a voluntary and conditional transaction over a well-defined ecosystem service between at least one supplier and one user [Gmez-Baggethun et al. (2009), p.6]. PES has been applied with a high degree of success in many countries of the world, particularly Meso-American and South American countries.2 For post-Kyoto, cap-and-trade programmes such reduced emission from deforestation and degradation (REDD) are being discussed as possible instruments to articulate international PES schemes. In Colombia, PES has been used for environmental conflicts regarding water pollution (Blanco, 2006). The Colombian Government is securing annual sums for buying lands for protecting watersheds through PES schemes. Colombia has developed economic instruments and adaptation plans to tackle the above-mentioned challenges in pramo zones.3 Although successfully used and endorsed, an evaluation of these programmes is missing in the literature, especially a differentiation between successful and unsuccessful programmes.4 Our paper hopes to fill this gap. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, to utilise a research methodology based on a pluralist and holist perspective to evaluate the PES; and second, to offer lessons about the efficacy of such schemes. Our research methodology utilises the resilience framework [defining resilience as the ability to withstand and recover from stress, while maintaining the functional properties of the system (Chapin et al., 2010)]. Our objective is to determine if PES schemes foster resilience or undermine it at our study sites, which are treated as a socio ecological system (SES) in which human activities, resources and ecosystems are mutually dependent. Because SES are complex and require an understanding of the interactions between ecological, economic, political and cultural processes, we utilise a pluralist approach; for key resources management issues cannot be solved by disciplinary experts but require an integrated understanding of many disciplines [Chapin et al., (2010) (p.26)].

Integral solutions to complex problems


Research sites and methods

Our research was undertaken in the Campohermoso sub-basin area since it has the following representative characteristics: its nearby areas share socioeconomic practices which create soil erosion, water pollution, deforestation and slides; it is located next to a protected area SFF Iguaque which has been threatened by socioeconomic practices that require arrangements with local people. The Campohermoso basin belongs to the Cane-Iguaque watershed located at Chiquiza, Gachantiv, Arcabuco and Villa de Leyva (also an important tourist site) municipalities at Boyac. Campohermoso has 5,254.3 Hectares with slopes between 12% and 50% at an altitude between 2,300 to 3,750 meters in the paramo zone of the Natural Park Iguaque. Its average annual rainfall is 1,600 mm with significant aquifer formations as an important water source, and well-drained moderate-low fertility soils (COPOBOYAC et al., 2006).
Figure 1 Map of research sites in Boyac Colombia (see online version for colours)

La Colorada PES Area

La Colorada Sub-basin
Cane Iguaque River

Pramo and Turberas Area

3500 masl

EL Roble Sub-basin

Villadelyva Acueduct

3000 masl

Campohermoso Sub-basin

Legend Interviews Sites Iguaque Natural Park Limits SubBasin limits Cane Iguaque Water shed limits

2100 masl


2.1 Socioeconomic description

The Campohermoso sub basin area has 3,067 people in total, all of them peasant-like with low and medium income levels; a population density of 68 people per square; and an annual population growth of 2.42%. 64% of the land is dedicated to pastures and crops, with 1,193 plots and an average size of 5.25 Ha. The predominant productive systems are traditional rearing and milk production and occasionally combined with potato


A. Vargas and M. Reyes

monoculture; potato monoculture crops and simple accumulation of subsistence capital; and potato monoculture crops with Andean tubers (COPOBOYAC et al., 2006). The Quality Life Index is the lowest in the basin with a value of 36.1.

2.2 Specific problems at the study case area

The lack of conservation practices and soil erosion has affected environmental goods and services. In particular there is an increasing water demand by Villa de Leyva and Chiquiza municipalities where water availability, regulation and pressure have been affected. This situation is even more serious in dry years reaching 80% water reduction.
Table 1 Formula P SUR Q SUB SUR Q ETR OHG Demanda DHA DHC DHP DG DG/OHG 192,300.4 506,193.01 12,960 71,1453.41 61.78 Acueducs water demand-(M3/month) Crops water demand-(M /month) Water demand privates-(M3/month) Global demand-(M /month) Scarcity index
3 3

Water balance and scarcity index Campohermoso Basin Volume (M3) 320,0450.71 20,849,896 357,592.25 2,048,892.65 1,151,558.06 Parameter Precipitation-(M3/month) Runoff-(M3/month) Lateral flow-(M3/month) Real evapotranspiration-(M3/month) Water supply-(M3/month) % 100 6.51 11.17 64.02 35.98 25.16 66.23 1.70 100 Very high

Source: COPOBOYAC et al. (2006)

The scarcity index the rate between available water supply and demand is very high in the case study area, with values greater than 61%, where levels greater than 20% suggest and urgency to manage water supply and demand (United Nations, 1997).

2.3 Research method

A flourishing literature exists regarding resilience management in socio-ecological systems.5 Given its newness, the theoretical framework is still being developed, as is finding a standard procedure for testing resilience. The research methodology proposed here is based mainly on 15 socio-ecological systems presented as case studies by members of the Resilience Alliance; likewise it gathers inputs from a paper developed by the Alliance that proposes an evolving approach to analysing resilience in SES as a basis for managing resilience within a four-step framework, involving close involvement of SES stakeholders (Walker et al., 2002). Our methodology also recognises the perceptions of local stakeholders for understanding processes by which multiple stressors and climate affect livelihoods (Bunce et al., 2010; Reid and Vogel 2006). This, along with our willingness to share time with people in their own context, and facilitate their self-analysis differentiates our analysis from standard neoclassical analysis (Bortoft 2007).

Integral solutions to complex problems

Table 2 Research techniques and data collection Site and numbers (Latitude: 3,000 masl in average) Elders, peasants, home ladies and Natural Parks employees of the site (n = 6)



Step objectives

Research technique Key informant interviews

Data collected

1 To establish the historical profile in the SES.

To identify how local people have affected their environment for the sake of their social and economic development To identify changes, causes and impacts done to their natural context To identify climate change symptoms To determine how prepared the context is to external shocks such as climate change and economic crisis To determine vulnerability variables. To establish different views from stakeholders related to the PES scheme. To determine the PES effect among the variables identified.

Village mapping, in-depth interviews on change and stressors

Historical timeline

2 To identify key vulnerabilities: economic, social, and environmental from the context.

Elders, peasants, home ladies and Natural Parks employees of the site (n = 6)

Key informant interviews.

Village mapping, in-depth interviews on change and stressors

3 To determine how the PES scheme contributes or affects the identified vulnerabilities.

Group meeting in the study site. (n = 10)

Key informant interviews

Village mapping, in-depth interviews on change and stressors

Head of the Natural Park

Focus groups

We designed a three-step methodology (see Table 2) which allows us to achieve inputs for elaborating the current construction of Iguaque Natural Park Management Plan, accounting for climate change effects and suggest improvements and strategies for implementing the proposed Payment for Environmental Services scheme in the area.


A. Vargas and M. Reyes

2.4 Major events: historical profile

Investigating the historical profile reveals that new agricultural practices introduced from colonial times consolidated unsustainable farming based on potato monoculture and characterised by a high use of fertilisers and harmful land clearing procedures like logging and fires. Practices which constitute key vulnerabilities to the SES since have had a visible and damaging impact to soils and water sources alongside climate variability and low life quality levels. Figure 2 identifies key events in the historical timeline related to the SES.6
Figure 2 Historical timeline at Campohermoso watershed (see online version for colours)

2010 2000 1970

Fertilizers usage increase. Climatic variability. Wind augmentation; rainfall reduction; Less water availability Extreme hot temperature events. 1982 and 1992 (Nio phenomenon) Iguaque Natural Park Declaration (1977) Plots fragmentation Potato crops spreading. New varieties introduced. Organic agriculture was changed by the Green Revolution one.



Land monopolization. Indigenous people and Church are expulsed. Church takes the control of land, economy and slave workforce.


Wheat crops introduced. Desertification. First Acueduct Villa de Leyva.

Colonial period: Urbanization; Land privatization


During the colonial period (17th to 18th centuries) indigenous settlements were reduced to urban cores while the communal use of land and natural resources was abolished and replaced by private property. Likewise well-kept forests by the indigenous disappeared due to cattle ranching and the so-called clean agriculture of wheat crops. Low crop rotation, and ploughing reduced the lands productivity and increased erosion, something that never happened before. During the Republican time, the church became the principal

Integral solutions to complex problems


landowner in the Iguaque Watershed, controlling the territory through a slave working force. In 1850, indigenous reservations and non-use lands were expropriated by the government; this reinforced large state properties monopolised by few landowners which allowed some peasant families to continue working for them. During the 1950s new varieties were introduced and traditional and organic agricultural practices were replaced by green revolution. This was accompanied by the Iguaque Natural Park Declaration (1977) and a policy which fragmented large state properties to be sold to local farmers, which boosted landscape transformation for potato monoculture crops replacing traditional polyculture crops while worsening water quality. Area wetlands were dredged for developing crops and cattle raising, now very typical in the area. Given growing population and its effect on water supply, the first Environmental Council in Villa de Leyva was established in 1998, principally to recover the Cane-Iguaque river watershed. Today, wind change patterns, rainfall reduction, longer warm periods and climatic uncertainty are the new norms.

Key vulnerabilities and strengths

According to the Colombian Second National Communication to the Parties of the UNFCCC, Boyac is potentially most affected by climate change. Based on the evaluation of global climate models which best represent regional climate, and with the help of high-spatial-resolution regional climate models, simulations were made of possible climatic scenarios for the remainder of the 21st century. The most probable scenario is the following:
In the Andean region, the most notorious changes can be expected with transition from a semi-humid climate to a semi-arid one, and this will particularly affect Boyac. As a matter of fact, Boyac is one of the areas with the largest peasant smallholding areas which might suffer very high in potential impact due to reductions in rainfall (IDEAM, 2010b).

General observations made by the second communication comport with respondents in the study site. Table 3 indicates key stressors as a source of the SES vulnerability, identified by respondent interviews. Climatic variation emerges as a key stressor. Some interviewees noted the arrival of new plagues and pests, along with lower overall soil quality. Needless to say the plot fragmentation that began forty years and the potato monoculture has exacerbated the vulnerability.
Table 3 Stressors Climatic variation Stressors reported at the study site Campohermoso Perception of stressors and their impacts Long warm periods are of special concern. Long rains not frequent as before. Climatic variations have affected water sources Warm periods are longer (and of higher temperature) than before. 2011 warm period was the strongest in last 50 years. Crops got burned and cattle had to be moved. Fertilisers prices increase Rain periods are shorter than before. Higher temperatures and winds damage crops.

Table 3

A. Vargas and M. Reyes

Stressors reported at the Study site Campohermoso (continued) Perception of stressors and their impacts Increased need for using a higher quantity of fertilisers. Worms affect potato production. Bad quality harvest. New plagues. Completely dried land. General production costs increase.

Stressors Soil quality reduction

Water scarcity Plots fragmentation

River dryness. Water sources become dry. Land scarcity forces monoculture, i.e., potato crops.

3.1 Conservation practices at the study site: the role of National Parks Authority as a key strength
One of the remarkable aspects at Campohermoso is how successful sensitisation activities have been during the last six years, enabling the National Parks Authority to erect and protect the Iguaque Natural Park buffer zone. A key strategy has been making people aware of their environmental context through several workshops and trips around the area, while learning the most important rivers and lakes and the watershed boundaries. In addition, the indigenous got to know each other increasing their awareness of water management practices in the watershed. As a result, the indigenous voluntarily accepted conservation and agricultural practices through demonstrative projects such as live fences, organic fertiliser use, while ceding, in some cases, up to 3 meters of their territory along the river to protect against water pollution. Another key strategy has been teenage education via a communitarian endemic species bank where they learn sustainable agricultural practices and how to restore water recharge sites affected by pastures, fires and crops.

The role of the PES scheme: some pros and cons

Do PES schemes foster resilience or undermine it? It depends on how the instrument is integrated into the relevant SES. Although there is agreement on what PES schemes are and their basic defining characteristics (Engel et al., 2008), every PES initiative is different because of the specific characteristics of each environmental problem. The instrument affects the structure and functioning of the SES through various channels, some related to ecological properties and others related to the social properties. Consequently, the effectiveness and unintended effects of the PES programme critically depends on the interactions with other parts of the SES. In what follows we compare two PES initiatives in the La Colorada and Campohermoso watersheds intended to improve water services, taking into account the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the SES. Special attention is given to the design process of the schemes, which is important because it identifies the degree of community involvement and future support of the programme. In some cases, PES result

Integral solutions to complex problems


from self-organised communities; in others they are initiated by government officials, or jointly by community members and the government. Real community driven projects allow participants to experiment and learn from their own experience and that of others, incorporating the specifics of a particular setting, thus avoiding the blueprint approach defined when policy makers, citizens, donors or scholars propose uniform solutions to a wide variety of problems (Ostrom, 2009). Of course, community driven programmes can also suffer from rent seeking and corruption (Conning and Kevane, 2002). The La Colorada watershed extends 4,244 Ha, of which 1,697 (40%) are located inside the SFF Iguaque, the protected area managed by the national government, in the municipalities of Arcabuco and Villa de Leyva, Boyac. The main activity is agriculture, primarily small-cattle ranching and basic crops. Problems regarding water quality and quantity led 470 downstream households to search for a solution. Initially they held meetings to better understand the causes of the problem and to propose solutions. They were supported by the National Parks Authority. Another watershed in the region adopted a PES scheme,7 so the La Colorada households thought it would be worthwhile to forge an agreement with upstream landholders in order to induce favourable land use changes. Through the Water Committee, downstream households negotiated bilateral agreements with nine landholders. The area under consideration is entirely located inside the protected area so landholders already had land use restrictions. The agreements were based on the particular condition of each owner and its property, giving special attention to the owners income. As a result payments were differentiated among landholders. This particular PES design favoured equity concerns over efficiency (Pascual et al., 2009). The agreements included annual payments based on the opportunity cost to the landowner as well as purchasing the properties. Regional and national environmental authorities provided funds and technical assistance for reforestation and ecological restoration. Three points are worth noting: one, the PES scheme resulted from local community concerns after they had discussed and better understood the problem; two, government officials, NGOs and other outside organisations were included gradually in the programme according to the needs and obstacles; and three, community decisions and involvement were facilitated by existing local institutions like the Water Committee. The process started in 2005 and the PES was fully implemented by 2009. In the Campohermoso watershed, the main activity is agriculture, especially potato, which is the main source of income upstream in Chiquiza municipality. Forest covers and wetlands are seriously affected by agriculture in the recharge area of the basin, affecting the quantity and quality of water consumed by downstream users in Villa de Leyva an important tourist centre. Upstream households obtain water from the turberas at the top of the pramo so they are only partially affected by land use decisions and its effects on water availability. The environmental conflict between upstream and downstream households was first identified by the National Parks Authorities and was not initiated by the community. Subsequently, other environmental authorities and organisations joined the process by proposing a PES scheme, using as a reference the recent experience with other regional PES schemes.8 Later, local authorities assumed an active role mainly in the design of the PES scheme but not to discuss alternatives. Thus, the indigenous implemented a pre-designed solution to a problem identified by institutions outside the community. Downstream users were represented by the Mayor and Council members. The experience in other regional PES schemes indicated that through this approach only 44%


A. Vargas and M. Reyes

of downstream users were aware of the programme; furthermore they did not know they were paying to sustain the PES scheme (Moreno et al., 2009). Upstream landholders were also represented by the Mayor and Council members but none of the landowners had been consulted until mid-2010 about the feasibility of the scheme. Upstream, community institutions are weak due to low commitment of members and weak reciprocity ties, meaning a low level of social capital. Upstream landholders have strong cultural ties to the land and the potato crop, so when they were first asked about the possibility of changing land from crops to conservation they were reluctant to provide truthful information, when environmental authorities tried to determine the financial benefits of cultivating potato. Landowners were not told about the ongoing PES scheme design. The process started in 2007 and by the end of 2010 has not been implemented. Four points are worth noting: one, this PES scheme is the outcome of a top-down approach, where community members did not participate directly; two, government officials initiated and led the process; three, there are no local community institutions suited to tackle collective choice problems; and four, for upstream landowners, land use changes from cultivation to conservation did not solve problems related to water scarcity.
Table 4 Dimension Exposure Sensitivity Water scarcity Human Human Ecological Adaptive capacity Socio-economics Climate change vulnerability assessment (before PES implementation) Measure Scarcity index
1 2

Watershed Campohermoso 61% 68 High 70.40%


La Colorada 36.24% 39 Medium 40% N.A. 35.54% 18% > 90% 50% Moderate vulnerable

Pop. density: pop/Km2 Agriculture dependency3 PA coverage4 UBN providers UBN users5 Economic dependency

48.40% 17.50%

18% > 90% 11% High vulnerable

Technology Policy and institutions

Adequate coverage

Functional community organisations8


Notes: 1Water demand/water supply, source: POMCA Cane-Iguaque (2008) 2 Source: POMCA Cane-Iguaque (2008) 3 Based on authors personal experience 4 Percentage of the watershed inside a protected area, source: POMCA Cane-Iguaque (2008). 5 Unsatisfied basic needs % of pop. Source: DANE 6 Dependency ratio, Source: DANE 7 Based on authors personal experience and DANE: water and sewage index UBN 8 # of water committees functioning/total know water committees, source: POMCA Cane-Iguaque (2008).

Integral solutions to complex problems


PES schemes are institutional responses to changes in the SES; and PES schemes are part of the SES, so how can we determine if the response promotes or undermine resilience? One approach is to determine if the response reduces the vulnerability of the system, which is better defined as the degree to which a system is susceptible or unable to cope with adverse effects of climate change (IPCC, 2007). Table 4 indicates an assessment of current vulnerability in the watersheds according to three dimensions: exposure the biophysical impacts of climate change on agroecological systems; sensitivity the degree to which a system is either adversely or beneficially affected by climate variability or change, and adaptive capacity the ability of institutions and individuals to avoid potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities or to cope with the consequences of change (Asian Development Bank and International Food Policy Research Institute, 2009). We used available data and personal experience. Because data indicate that the most critical biophysical impact due to climate change is water scarcity; we took the scarcity index as an approximation of the first dimension of exposure. The Campohermoso watershed presents a high percentage of water scarcity likely to worsen during the next thirty years. Sensitivity depends on the number of people potentially affected as well as the importance and fragility of the ecosystem. The system is much more sensitive if local livelihoods depend on agriculture. Campohermoso with low crop diversity and a strong potato cropping tradition is much more vulnerable than La Colorada in this dimension. Finally, we capture the degree of adaptive capacity through socio-economic characteristics, institutions and technology. Individual adaptive capacity is positively determined by the level of education, wealth, income and access to information and technology; whereas community adaptive capacity depends on the effectiveness of institutions. As indicated in Table 4, in general terms the Campohermoso watershed is more vulnerable than the Colorada Watershed. The former is much more exposed, sensible and less capable of adaptation due to the absence of functional community organisations and a greater incidence of poverty than the later. The PES scheme can potentially reduce vulnerability in both sites, but how much so depends on the design process. In both sites the PES is expected to reduce water scarcity. According to the environmental authorities involved in the project the average annual runoff in Campohermoso could increase 24% if every farmer targeted as a supplier of the environmental service changes current land use from cultivation to conservation (ESVILLA et al., 2010); thus, the proposed increased in environmental services could meet expectations only if local farmers agree with the project. This ideal scenario faces a great risk because those farmers have not been fully and formally included in the design process. In Colorada, there is not an official estimate of additional water regulation services due to the PES. Both schemes face the challenge of meeting the expectations of those involved, a risk that originates in the uncertainty surrounding the final effects of the land use changes on water regulation. In a review by Calder (2005) evidence does not indicate unambiguous effects of increasing forest cover on run-off and regulation of flows, in particular the increase in dry season flows. Project participants must be aware of this uncertainty so there are no false expectations; if not, the scheme can loss support, users get reluctant to pay and farmers will resume cultivation if they expect users will not pay. Given the political and social tensions between inhabitants and authorities of the municipalities of Chiquiza and Villa


A. Vargas and M. Reyes

de Leyva, it was important that the uncertainty was communicated and introduced as a fundamental part of the scheme. In terms of sensitivity the PES scheme can reduce vulnerability if it promotes diversification in economic activities and income sources. If people are paid their opportunity cost to not cultivate, then annual income is roughly unchanged but comes from two different and unrelated sources. In this sense, PES payments to farmers can insure against agricultural price fluctuations; although conversely farmers could become dependent on external income sources. This is particularly important for upstream inhabitants of the Campohermoso watershed because they have strong cultural ties to the land and the potato crop. One way to reduce sensitivity without changing the economic activity is via in-kind payments (such as technical assistance to improve cultivation techniques and the introduction of less demanding water potato varieties) rather than cash. Adaptive capacity can be improved if the PES scheme is designed to alleviate poverty concomitantly with enhancing conservation. If poverty is understood in a wider perspective, as individuals capacities and opportunities (such as proposed by Amartya Sen) PES must include farmers not as recipients of payments made by users but as stakeholders. In order to be effective in reducing vulnerability the scheme must be complemented with strategies oriented towards increasing skill and education levels. It is clear that one instrument is insufficient to deal with all the obstacles and needs. Finally, PES can help build social capital. This argument rests on the assumption that community members are part of the process, from the identification of the problem to the implementation of the strategy. But if the PES scheme is the result of a top-down approach, like in Campohermoso, then is not clear why there would be more social capital just because the scheme requires an organisation to collect and make payments, along with monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. If those organisations are seen as an imposition by the government and other organisations, then there is no reason to expect the community to be able to design their own rules to cope with collective choice problems and other conflicts. In conclusion, the non-inclusive, top-down approach of the PES in Campohermoso is not likely to reduce vulnerability. Rather, strategies involving farmers and their families directly will be more successful. In Colorada, by contrast, the PES scheme is the result of a bottom-up approach made possible thanks to the existing social capital.

Lessons learned

Even if PES schemes are designed to tackle a specific environmental conflict it impacts the vulnerability and capacity of communities to cope with other stressors, like climate change or market dynamics. PES schemes, for example, are widely promoted by government officials and donors for their potential as poverty alleviation instruments (Wunder, 2005; Suyanto et al., 2007). Taking as a reference point the Campohermoso and Colorada watersheds, Figure 3 indicates how responses produce changes in the subsystems which in turn trigger new human actions. The slow variables strongly influence socio-ecological systems but remain relatively constant over decades, while the fast variables respond sensitively to daily, seasonal, and inter-annual variation in exogenous or endogenous conditions [Chapin et al., (2010), p.346].

Integral solutions to complex problems


Figure 3 Campohermoso and La Colorada watersheds as a SES and the institutional response: PES (see online version for colours)

Climate change

National and regional governance systems, regional economy

Water quantity Functionaltypes Soil types, moisture Disturbance regime Ecosystem structure

Slow variables

Slow variables

Wealth Aqueducts Cultural ties to the land and economic activities Community governance institutions Land tenure regimes

Institutional Response: PES

Water quality Biodiversity Forest cover Soil nitrate Other

Fast variables
Human actors

Fast variables

Income Demographics Acces to resources: water Agricultural market dynamics Land value

ES and environmental impacts

Social impacts

Source: The authors, based on Chapin et al. (2010)

In the Campohermoso watershed the most critical slow variables are the cultural ties to the land, economic activities, and the land tenure regimes. Demographic growth coupled with a fixed area for cropping has caused high level of plot fragmentation, resulting in non-diversified economic activity. Furthermore, it is difficult for those who stay in the region to improve their income because of the small area of productive units.9 The need to increase cultivable land per person has led peasants to reduce forest cover, drain wetlands, and use more fertilisers. While the first of these actions negatively affects the soil moisture and its water absorption capacity; the latter increases in the short run groundwater contamination. But, because most upstream farmers obtain water for domestic consumption from other sources there is no local negative feedback to stabilise the system. The bottom-up solution is the key to success. The PES scheme was successful in Colorada because it was demanded by the community itself; in Campohermoso the participatory education with teenagers and elders through pilot projects was also successful. These activities foster resilience to external shocks like climate change as people obtain ownership and leadership of their territory, while learning to manage their natural resources and understand the importance of changing some practices that will affect their water sources in the near future. A key lesson is that in real terms environmental services sellers, i.e., the upstream landowners, are not better off with the proposed monetary compensation. It is crucial to understand how their welfare is determined by aspects such as cultural ties to the land


A. Vargas and M. Reyes

and economic activities as a source of happiness. Yet, viewed from a holistic perspective, the PES does not solve an increasing problem-water scarcity, even after making needed land use changes for downstream users. One solution to overcoming the PES drawbacks and making the most of this scheme as an instrument to area climate adaptation is to offer in-kind payments such as technical assistance to improve cultivation techniques and the introduction of less demanding water potato varieties, as well as enhancing individual capacity and opportunities. A PES will succeed if complemented with increasing skills and education levels of the population, along with designing an aqueduct that manages the water flows of the whole area.

This work was funded by the School of Economics of the Sergio Arboleda University and supported by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, and the Swedish International Development Agency within the International Training Programme: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation. We would like to thank the government officials from the Iguaque National Natural Park, villagers and all respondents at the study case area Boyac, Colombia. The authors also thank the editor and two anonymous referees for helpful comments.

Asian Development Bank and International Food Policy Research Institute (2009) Building Climate Resilience in the Agriculture Sector of Asia and the Pacific, available at Building-Climate-Resilience-Agriculture-Sector.pdf (accessed on 20 April 2012). Blanco, J. (2006) La Experiencia Colombiana en Esquemas de Pagos por Servicios Ambientales, available at Borda, C. (2010) Esquema de Pago por Servicios Ambientales: Diseo para la Subcuenca de Campohermoso, Cuenca Alta del Rio Cane-Iguaque, Departamento de Boyac, Ministero de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial. Bortoft, H. (2007) The Wholeness of Nature Goethes Way Toward a Science of Conscious Participation in Nature, Lindisfarne Press, Edinburgh. Bunce, M., Brown, K. and Rosendo, S. (2010) Policy misfits, climate change and cross-scale vulnerability in coastal Africa: how development projects undermine resilience, Environmental Science & Policy, Vol. 13, No. 6, pp.485497. Calder, I. (2005) Blue Revolution: Integrated Land and Water Resources Management, 2nd ed., Routledge, London. Chapin, F., Kofinas, G. and Folke, C. (2010) Principles of Ecosystem Stewardship Resilience Based Natural Resource Management in an Changing World, Springer, Stockholm. Conning, J. and Kevane, M. (2002) Community based targeting mechanisms for social safety nets: a critical review, World Development, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.375394. COPOBOYACA, UAESPNN, IVH (2006) Plan de Ordenamiento y Manejo de la Cuenca de Ro Cane Iguaque. Engel, S., Pagiola, S. and Wunder, S. (2008) Designing payments for environmental services in theory and practice: an overview of the issues, Ecological Economics, Vol. 65, No. 4, pp.663674.

Integral solutions to complex problems


ESVILLA, UAESPNN, CORPOBOYAC (2010) Esquema de Pagos por Servicios Ambientales Diseo para la subcuenca de Campohermoso. Cuenca alta del ro Cane-Iguaque. Boyac. Convenio No. 116 de 2008, MAVDT-Patrimonio Natural. Gmez-Baggethun, E., Groot, R., Lomas, P. and Montes, C. (2009) The history of ecosystem services in economic theory and practice: from early notions to markets and payment schemes, Ecological Economics, Vol. 69, No. 6, pp.12091218. IDEAM (2010a) Adaptacin in IDEAM (2010) Segunda Comunicacin Nacional ante la Convencin Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climtico, Bogot, DC. IDEAM (2010b) Segunda Comunicacin ante la Convencin Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climtico, Bogot, DC. Iguaque Natural Park Declaration (1977) Executive Act: No. 173, June 1977: Por el cual se aprueba el Acuerdo 0033 de 2 de mayo de 1977, Originado de la Junta Directiva del Instituto Nacional de los Recursos Naturales Renovables y del Ambiente INDERENA. IPCC (2007) Cambio climtico 2007: Informe de sntesis. Contribucin de los Grupos de trabajo I, II y III al Cuarto Informe de evaluacin del Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climtico edited by R.K. Pachauri and A. Reisinger, Ginebra Suiza. MAVDT (2010) Available at (retrieved on November 2010). Moreno, R., Borda, C., Maldonado, J. and Wunder, S. (2009) Do environmental services buyers prefer differentiated rates? A case study from the Colombian Andes, Documentos CEDE, No. 23. Ostrom, E. (2009) A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems, Science, Vol. 325, No. 5939, pp.419422. Pagiola, S. (2008) Payments for environmental services in Costa Rica, Ecological Economics, Vol. 65, No. 4, pp.712724. Pascual, U., Muradian, R., Rodrguez, L. and Duraiappah, A. (2009) Revisiting the relationship between equity and efficiency in payments for environmental services, Ecosystem Services Economics Working papers No. 1. POMCA Cane-Iguaque (2008) Plan de Ordenacin y Manejo de la Cuenca (POMCA) de la cuenca Ro Iguaque, Final Document, UAESPNN, CORPOBOYAC; IVH. Reid, P. and Vogel, C. (2006) Living and responding to multiple stressors in South Africa glimpses from KwaZulu Natal, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.195206. Resilience Alliance (2010) Available at (accessed on 23 April 2012). Reyes, M. and Ortiz, L. (2010) Pramos en Colombia: Un ecosistema vulnerable, available at mos-colombia.pdf (accessed on 23 April 20102). Suyanto, S., Khususiyah, N. and Leimona, B. (2007) Poverty and environmental services: case study in Way Besai Watershed, Lampung Province, Indonesia, Ecology and Society, Vol. 12, No. 2, available at (accessed on 23 April 2012). United Nations (1997) Critical Trends Global Change and Sustainable Development, United Nations. Walker, B., Carpenter, S., Anderies, J., Nick Abel, G., Janssen, M. and Lebel, L. et al. (2002) Resilience management in social-ecological systems: a working hypothesis for a participatory approach, Ecology and Society, Vol. 6, No. 1, available at (accessed on 23 April 2012). Willetts, E. (2008) Watershed payment for ecosystem services and climate adaptation: case study Rugezi Wetlands, Master project, Duke University, Rwanda. Wunder, S. (2005) Payment for environmental services: Some nuts and bolts, CIFOR Occasional paper, No. 42.


A. Vargas and M. Reyes

1 In Colombia, the Nio (hot phase) and Nia (cold phase) visibly influences the inter-annual climate variability, causing above/below rainfall and temperature depending on the phase. In Boyac, like most of the Andean zone and the Caribbean, during the warm phase (El Nio), rainfall is reduced between 20% and 40%, reaching severe levels above 40%. No matter if natural or anthropogenic, how to tackle the consequences of the variation of climate is of paramount importance. The pioneer case is Costa Rica with its country-wide programme Pago por Servicios Ambientales implemented in 1997 to reverse high deforestation rates (Pagiola, 2008). The national pilot project for adaptation to climate change (INAP) is the main programme for adaptation in high mountain ecosystems promoting the development of key adaptation measures [IDEAM, (2010a), p.348]. For some exceptions see Willetts (2008), and Asian Development Bank and International Food Policy Research Institute (2009). See Chapin et al. (2010), Ostrom (2009), Walker et al. (2002), and Resilience Alliance (2010). Based on field work interviews and complemented with: (ESVILLA et al., 2010), and (COPOBOYAC et al., 2006). Chaina PES Initiative, for details see Blanco (2006). Chaina PES initiative (Blanco, 2006). Average plot size is 6 ha, but more than 70% of plots are less than 5 ha in area (Borda, 2010).

2 3

4 5 6 7 8 9