Alejandra Zaga Mendez

Université du Québec en Outaouais
A comparison of agro-environnemental incentives for biodiversity conservation in Quebec and their effects on farmers’ participation.

Incentive-based mechanisms are increasingly being employed to encourage voluntary adoption of biodiversity conservation practises for the provision of multiple ecosystem services. There are still major challenges in encouraging farmers' participation in these schemes, and it is proven that extending participation to the different aspects of program management and design could increase the longevity of ecological actions. This work pays closer attention to the functional characteristics of incentive-based mechanisms and their effect on farmers participation by comparing the rules governing two programs in the province of Québec, the Prime Vert Program (public schemes) and Alternative Land Use Services initiative (payment for ecosystem services). To analyze institutional characteristics, we applied the institutional analysis and development describing the action situation, the conditions and the resulting institutional interactions (Ostrom 2005, Carter et al. 2016). This content analysis was combined with data on the participation rate and exploratory interviews to contextualize the results. Our study reveals low adoption of programs encouraging the provision of ecosystem services in intensive agricultural areas in Québec. This could be explained by the rigid bureaucratic conditions imposed by public schemes. Moreover, both schemes still see participation in terms of program-client relations rather than encouraging active participation of farmers in the design, management and monitoring of programs. We also highlight important institutional interactions between the ALUS and Prime Vert program that could compromise the additionality of conservation practices and the provision of ecosystem services.