Monitoring is always important, as it allows the effectiveness of the project to be determined. It can also allow mid-course corrections to be made if they should prove necessary. The need for monitoring is particularly high in pilot projects, which are intended to serve as guides for future projects.
For the purpose of monitoring compliance with the contract and computing payments owed, observation of participants would be sufficient. However, the RISEMP has the broader objective of piloting the application of PES systems to silvopastoral practices. This requires not only monitoring the behavior of participants, but determining that the project has been instrumental in affecting this behavior. Monitoring the degree to which the project is encouraging participants to undertake the desired changes in land use entails monitoring the changes in land use of the participants themselves, and of a control group (so that the impact of the project itself can be distinguished from other trends that might affect land use).
To address these issues, monitoring will be undertaken on three groups. In addition to the target group of participants (80 households in Colombia, 100 in Costa Rica, and 100 in Nicaragua), a control group of 30 households will be monitored in each country. This control group will be selected so as to have similar characteristics as the households in the target group, but will not receive any payments for environmental services. The target group itself will be partitioned into two groups, so that the impact of technical assistance provided by the project can also be tested. The main part of the group will receive both the payments and technical assistance, while a subgroup of 30 households will only receive the payments for environmental services (to the extent that they adopt the recommended practices), without the technical assistance. Each household in each of these groups will be monitored every other year. Their land use will be monitored, and a socio-economic survey will be conducted.
To verify that the silvopastoral systems promoted under the project actually generate the expected environmental benefits, biodiversity and carbon sequestration will be monitored in all land use types in the three pilot areas. For biodiversity, counts of bird species will be the main indicator of biodiversity used, but they will be complemented by studies of butterflies, ants, and mollusks. Factors such as endemicity and rarity in the species observed will be taken into consideration. Water quality will be monitored only in the Colombian site, as funds did not permit a more general assessment of the contribution of these systems to improved water quality.
The changes will be compared to baseline measurements made at the start of the project. A study of the Matiguás-Río Blanco sites in Nicaragua, for example, found 131 bird species (Pérez and others, 2004). The key test for the project will be whether biodiversity increases significantly compared to the baseline.
The results of the monitoring will also be used to revise and refine the biodiversity and carbon sequestration indices. These revised indices could be used to determine payments under any future project. They will not, however, affect payments under the current project, which will be made based on an ex ante estimates of the global environmental benefits of each land use, as expressed in the environmental service index.
In addition to the project’s impact on the global environment, it is also important to understand its impact on household welfare: does welfare increase, and if so how much and in what way, and are there differences in how welfare increases across income groups? Payments for environmental services have been hypothesized as having the potential for improving the welfare of the poor in target areas (Pagiola and others, 2003), but there has been little empirical work on this topic to date. Data collected through the socioeconomic survey will help to address these questions. It will allow low-income households to be identified, and will provide a variety of measures of household welfare, including income-related measures (total income and income variability) and other indicators (such as health status).