A regional evaluation of the effectiveness of Mexico’s payments for hydrological services.


Recent criticisms of, and financial limits on, payment for hydrologic services (PHS) programs suggest that rigorous, spatially explicit evaluations are urgently needed to improve their effectiveness in conserving forest cover and to justify payments. To evaluate the effectiveness of Mexico’s PHS programs in the Pixquiac and Gavilanes subwatersheds in central Veracruz state, we used a grid-based approach to (1) compare the suitability of national versus regional deforestation risk models in selecting the parcels that should receive payment and (2) evaluate three metrics of program effectiveness in parcels receiving PHS: forest cover loss, additionality associated with deforestation risk, and leakage. Our results suggest that the national deforestation risk model was less effective at predicting actual deforestation patterns and tended to underestimate deforestation risk vs. models run regionally. Regional analysis showed parcels receiving PHS exhibited significantly lower deforestation in plots receiving PHS (0.76% loss) vs. control areas (6.29%) between 2003 and 2013. Furthermore, we found relatively poor additionality with only 38.5% of PHS occurring in zones with high or very high deforestation probability. Finally, we did not detect significant evidence of proximal leakage in our study subwatersheds. Our findings suggest that the PHS programs in central Veracruz have helped to reduce, but not stop forest loss completely. Using increased targeting of areas with higher deforestation risk in selecting PHS areas and updated regional deforestation risk models should be helpful in evaluating and increasing the effectiveness of these programs.


Natural Resources and the Environment

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Regional Environmental Change


Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany