Tropical forest conservation Ecuador's Socio Bosque Program
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Ecuador experienced a deforestation rate, for the period between 2005 and 2010, of 186,448 ha/year. Thus, Ecuador is among the countries with the highest deforestation rate in Latin America. The Socio Bosque Program (SBP) implemented by the Ecuadorian government aims at reducing deforestation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and alleviating poverty by paying an annual monetary incentive for each hectare of native forest enrolled under the program. This study aims to gain a better understanding of the complexity of individual landowners' decision in the allocation of their native forest resources. A mixed mode design survey (face to face survey, telephone survey and online survey) was conducted in the northwest region of the province of Pichincha, Ecuador. A representative farm was modeled in the area of study using General Algebraic Modeling System (GAMS) in order to calculate a combination of land uses options alternatives- (including the SBP) which would optimize landholders' net present value (NPV) of lands. Results of the survey indicate that individuals participating in the program reported an average farm size of 129 hectares, while non-participants reported on average 62 hectares. SBP participants reported that 57%, and nonparticipants reported 56% of their land was covered by native forests. Out of the 174 individuals sampled, 32 were participating in the SBP. Of the remaining 142 landholders, 37% were not participating due to the low payment of the SBP, 30% were not participating because they lacked trust in the program, and 29% of the respondents said they were not participating because the SBP was too complicated. Results from the logistic regression model showed that the number of hectares of native forest and whether the landholder lives in rural or urban area were significant important variables to predict landholder's participation in the SBP. The results of the GAMS model indicated that individual landholders maximize the NPV of their property by combined SBP enrollment with ecotourism, and harvesting activities. This study contributes to the current understanding of the SBP by determining variables that influence landholders' decision in whether or not to participate.
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