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In one of the first randomized evaluations of collective pay-for-performance payments for ecosystem services, we test whether community-level fiscal incentives can curtail the use of land-clearing fire—a major source of emissions and negative health externalities. The program had three components: awareness raising and training on fire prevention; a small capital grant to mobilize fire-fighting resources; and the promise of a large cash transfer at the end of the year if the village did not have fire, which we monitored by satellite. While program villages increased fire prevention efforts, we find no evidence of any large or statistically significant differences in fire outcomes. Our results appear to be driven by a combination of the payment not being large enough and a failure of collective action, and offer a cautionary tale on the importance of measuring additionality when evaluating payments for environmental services and other conservation programs.
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