Document Type : REVIEW PAPER


1 Doctoral Program on Environmental Sciences, Postgraduate School, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung City, West Java, Indonesia

2 Master Program on Sustainability Science, Postgraduate School, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung City, West Java, Indonesia

3 Departement of Communication and Community Empowerment, Faculty of Human Ecology, Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor City, West Java, Indonesia

4 Departement of Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Padjadjaran University, Sumedang, West Java, Indonesia

5 Indonesia Research Institute Japan, Shibuya Tokyo, Japan


Agroforestry offers sustainable solutions for small-scale farmers and the environment, crucial for climate change adaptation and resilience. They store carbon, conserve biodiversity, maintain water and soil fertility, and support livelihood diversification. Payment for ecosystem services has the potential to safeguard agroforestry systems in theory, yet it encounters obstacles concerning the permanence of these systems and associated risks and barriers. The primary objective of this research is to examine the obstacles and uncertainties related to the implementation of Payment for ecosystem services in smallholder agroforestry systems. This study plays a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of Payment for ecosystem services schemes, thereby encouraging the widespread adoption of agroforestry practices. A systematic literature review was conducted to assess the payment for ecosystem services model and its implementation. Data were obtained from databases of scientific publications such as Scopus, Semantic Scholar, Crossref, and Google Scholar. A total of 40 pertinent studies were selected due to the intricate array of obstacles and uncertainties that hinder the effective implementation of payment for ecosystem services initiatives. The findings indicate that financial limitations arise as a noteworthy obstacle, as small-scale farmers encounter considerable economic hardships and discouragingly expensive implementation expenses (ranging from 150 United States dollar per metric ton of carbon dioxide). Additionally, they face a low credit price (approximately 50 United States dollar per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent). Socio-cultural factors, including gender dynamics, traditional beliefs, and generational disparities, shape farmers' attitudes toward payment for ecosystem services adoption, necessitating targeted interventions to foster trust and community acceptance. The importance of reliable data is emphasized by technical hurdles like accurate measurement of ecosystem services and monitoring complexities, necessitating innovative solutions and robust methodologies. Biophysical conditions like rainfall patterns and soil health further influence program success, demanding tailored approaches for effective implementation. The payment for ecosystem services programs entails a multitude of risks, which encompass various dimensions. These risks include uncertainties in the market, internal factors within the programs, flaws in program design, and environmental challenges. Market risks, like delayed credit payments, hinder financial cycles in programs. Other factors like farmers' commitment, inequitable benefit sharing, and labour displacement contribute to program sustainability risks. The success of programs is further endangered by subpar program design, insufficient conservation measures, and the adverse effects of climate change. Ultimately, comprehending and addressing these obstacles is essential in order to fully realize the benefits of payment for ecosystem services in agroforestry.bComprehensive strategies, including policy support, stakeholder engagement, and fair compensation coupled with collaborative efforts from governments, non-government organizations, local communities, and private enterprises are essential. Through the mitigation of risks barriers highlighted in this study, the utilization of payment for ecosystem services has the potential to become an effective instrument in advancing sustainable agricultural land practices, combating climate change, and improving the well-being of smallholder farmers.

Graphical Abstract

Risk barriers and sustainability in payment for ecosystem service implementation in smallholder forestry


  • Smallholder agroforestry offers a solution to tackle climate change through PES but significant barriers and risk related to the permanence aspect;
  • These barriers encompass financial aspects, Socio-cultural aspects, and technical aspects.
  • The permanence risk creates the difficulty ensuring long-term carbon storage
  • Supportive policies, capacity building, and improved monitoring methods are crucial for unlocking the full potential of smallholder agroforestry in climate change mitigation strategies.


Main Subjects


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