¡Hola Conservation!

The Actopan municipality in Veracruz, Mexico, is an ecologically significant area. It contains 1,400 hectares of wetland area with a Ramsar designation. The area is important for migrating birds and many other threatened and endangered mammal and reptile species. In this region, urban development and agricultural expansion have threatened forest ecosystems. Mexico has a long history of deforestation, and in order to reverse this trend Mexico has implemented a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Program called ProArbol.  The program was created in 2008 by merging two existing payment for ecosystem services programs and the federal government has applied great effort to improve uptake of PES programs. Despite these efforts, participation in PES Systems stays low, mainly due to lack of capital.

In order to improve uptake of the PES program, and to prevent land use change of this important wetland area, a local environmental organization teamed up with Rare. Rare used their “Pride” methodology (shown below) to create a social marketing campaign to change the behaviour of landowners in the area.

Rare Methodology

Rare’s Theory of Change Model

The goal of the Pride campaign in Veracruz was to increase the number of land-owners in the area who committed to conserve their natural landscape by registering with the PES program. How did they do this?:

Knowledge– Landowners were taught about the benefits of the program and the process of certifying it

Attitude– Trip to a bird observatory for locals to learn about native wildlife.

Interpersonal Communication– Encouraging conversations about PES program and the importance of conserving natural landscapes through events, calendars and school visits

Barrier Removal– Events for landowners with staff to sign people up onsite for the PES program.  This both helped reduce the bureaucratic barrier from the paperwork, but the campaign also absorbed the cost of registering land with the program, in order to remove the financial burden.

So, how did they do?


Fantastic! 😀 Good 🙂 Hmmm…  😕
Be action oriented Target a specific audience Make the behaviour change public
Recognize the Influences Lose the mask and be authentic Provide continuous positive encouragement
Don’t rush through the campaign process Target the quick wins
Keep it positive, keep it fun! Have a positive Net Impact

I think one of the things that this campaign did really well was to recognize the influences.  Engaging the community is important in Mexico, where 80% of the forest is legally titled to local communities. In order to take advantage of this, one of Rare’s goals was interpersonal communication, they wanted to increase communication among locals about the PES program.  This is also a great example of “not rushing the campaign process” and setting goals.

A tool that the campaign is not using that may be useful moving forward is to make the behaviour change public. Part of the reason the campaign is so positive and fun,logo2 is the peregrine falcon mascot named Peri and the campaign slogan “Certifica tu Tesoro” [Register your Treasure]. These would be great visuals for a public declaration, such as a sign on the registered property. Public declarations are great for creating a social norm, and in this case it could even increase interpersonal communication, which is one of the steps in the Pride process.

This approach works because there is already a Payment for Ecosystem Services Program in place. However it is important to recognize that having a PES program doesn’t automatically mean that conservation will happen.  Social marketing can and should work in conjunction with government policies in order to create positive behaviour change.

Happy Bright Friday!


Alison Carlyle is a 3forever student with an environmental focus. In the fall she be headed to the University of Brighton to continue her education in social marketing.

Follow her on Twitter or LinkIn with her.


Green K.M., DeWan A., Balcázar Arias A. & Hayden D. (2013) Driving adoption of payments for ecosystem services through social marketing, Veracruz, Mexico. Conservation Evidence, 10, 48-52


2 thoughts on “¡Hola Conservation!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s