Green without envy: how social capital alleviates tensions from a Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) program in Indonesia
Social capital increases participation and the success of conservation projects. However, research often overlooks social capital between program participants and nonparticipants. We examine social capital between participants and nonparticipants in villages across the Cidanau Watershed in West Java, Indonesia. Villages in this region have longstanding participation in a Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme, and previous studies note they contain high levels of social capital. We find that working together, helping each other when someone is in need, and trusting your neighbors are part of the tradition and the history of these communities. Furthermore, we find that high levels of social capital persist between village members who do and do not participate in the PES scheme, despite perceived tensions and jealousy and elite capture in the PES scheme. The high levels of social capital mitigate the social impacts of the PES program. Specifically, participants report giving cash to jealous neighbors and/or providing nonparticipants with information about the PES scheme and encouraging their involvement. The informal actions that participants take to alleviate tension and jealousy mitigate the negative social impacts and perceptions of the PES. Thus, this research extends the literature on PES programs to consider participants and nonparticipants and it demonstrates how high levels of social capital can contribute to project stability by alleviating negative consequences and perceptions through informal mechanisms.