Brief review of the program for the Payment of Environmental Services in Costa Rica

In the conservation of biodiversity in our country, the role of the payment for environmental services program (known as “PES”) has been essential as a mechanism for financing the protection actions carried out by different people throughout the national territory, which has allowed individuals to become highly relevant actors in conjunction with the State for the protection of the environment.

The PES program began at the local level in 1996 with the entry into force of the Forestry Law, Law No. 7575, which introduced the PES concept into the national legal system and created the National Forestry Financing Fund (“FONAFIFO”) as the entity in charge of administering the program. However, the program also has its roots in fundamental international legal instruments for environmental protection such as the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What does PES consist of?

Basically, the PES consists of an economic compensation provided by the State in favor of those who provide environmental services, understood as those actions of gas mitigation, water protection, biodiversity protection, research, among others that are carried out in forests and forestry plantations and that have a direct impact on the protection of the environment.

Where are the funds obtained from?

The economic resources used for PES have their source in public resources (for example, a percentage of the tax on wood and fuel tax), as well as the money that can be obtained from other sources, for example from international credits such as the loan between the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Republic of Costa Rica contained in Law No. 8640, which has among its objectives to reduce the financial costs for small producers to access the program.

Who is eligible to participate in the PES?

Regarding who can access PES and its requirements, there are special regulations that define the conditions of the applicants, the documentation to be submitted and the procedure, mainly the reference regulations are the Forestry Law, its regulations and the Procedures Manual for the environmental services payment program. In addition, FONAFIFO has a series of application forms that can be downloaded directly from the institution’s web page:

It is important to keep in mind that the regulation on requirements and procedures over the years is subject to changes and updates, especially in the rules set forth in the Regulations and the Manual, also, the period for receipt of applications is usually determined to specific dates, so it is appropriate that the person interested in participating verifies the current requirements, research and advice so that your application has greater likelihood of a successful outcome.

Thus, we hope to have contributed with this article to give greater visibility and exposure to this financial mechanism, which is so relevant to environmental conservation. In addition to the PES, there are also other mechanisms such as the Contract for the Reduction of Forest Emissions (CREF), which we will address in another installment, with the purpose of making more and more people aware of the existence of programs in which they can participate and that seek to make efforts in environmental conservation financially sustainable.


Forestry Law:

Forestry Law Regulations:

Law 8640:

Procedures manual for the environmental services payment program: