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Testing the Effectiveness of Payments for Ecosystem Services to Reduce Deforestation in Uganda
Initial registration date
August 30, 2013
June 01, 2017 12:57 PM EDT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
One popular policy approach to curbing deforestation is payments for ecosystem services (PES), where participants receive payments if they comply with a set of conditions that are protective of the environment, such as refraining from cutting down trees on their land. It is important to evaluate this and other types of emissions reduction interventions in order to determine the most cost-effective way of reducing carbon emissions. This project is based in the districts of Hoima and Kibaale, which are in the equatorial zone of western Uganda and have some of the highest deforestation rates in the country. The goal of this study is to estimate the effect of payments to landowners for forest conservation on landowners’ social and economic welfare and the ecological integrity of the forest by randomly assigning 136 villages to either receive the PES program or act as the comparison group.
Jayachandran, Seema et al. 2017. "Testing the Effectiveness of Payments for Ecosystem Services to Reduce Deforestation in Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. June 01.
In the treatment villages, Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) staff members offered an incentive contract to each household that owned forest land, under which they will receive annual payments if they meet certain terms. Landowners are required to refrain from cutting trees on their land (with some exceptions built into the contract) and also to re-forest a portion of their land. CSWCT employees monitor compliance with the contract by conducting random spot checks in the forest to look for newly cleared patches of forest or fresh tree stumps and to assess if new trees have been planted.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
amount of intact forest, forest density, tree-cutting and tree-planting behavior, economic and social well-being
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Forest density and the area of intact forest will be constructed from satellite images. Other outcomes will be collected via household surveys.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
One hundred and thirty-six villages in the Hoima and Kibaale districts of Uganda were randomly assigned to either the treatment or the comparison group. Households in both treatment and control groups received a baseline questionnaire prior to the PES program being implemented. Additionally, pre-intervention high-resolution QuickBird satellite images were taken of the study area. Boundaries of land parcels were demarcated with handheld GPS units and netbook computers and linked to the remote-sensing images to create images of and measures of the forest cover on each household’s land. Endline data collection, including both a household survey and Quickbird satellite images, will be conducted after the intervention has been implemented for two years.
Experimental Design Details
In each subcounty, public lotteries were conducted to select which of two stratified groups of villages received the PES program.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
65 treatment and 71 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Northwestern University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Stanford University Research Compliance Office
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
February 11, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
November 20, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
121 villages: 60 treatment, 61 control
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1174 forest owners, 1099 with GPS coordinates of home
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
564 treatment forest owners in 60 villages; 535 control group forest owners in 61 villages