Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 December 2016
A controversial issue in the debate on payments for ecosystem services (PESs) is whether distributional goals should be considered in the design of such schemes. We contribute to this debate by analysing the preferences of citizens of Antananarivo (Madagascar) as potential buyers of forest ecosystem services from a developing country. We conducted a choice experiment to investigate citizens’ willingness to pay to conserve the endemic spiny forests in southwest Madagascar and their preferences for including distributional goals in the design of a PES scheme aimed at spiny forest conservation. We found that respondents were willing to pay for forest conservation and preferred a PES scheme in which the poorest households in a community would receive the largest share of payments over a scheme in which every household would receive the same share, which, in turn, they preferred over a PES scheme in which they would have no information about its distributional impact. In comparing these results with those of a similar survey in a developed country (in Cottbus, Germany), we find that the preference ranking regarding distributional impacts is identical. However, citizens in Cottbus attach greater importance to the consideration of distributive goals in PESs than citizens in Antananarivo.