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Payment for hydrological services (PHS) are popular tools for conserving ecosystems and their water-related services. However, improving the spatial targeting and impacts of PHS, as well as their ability to foster synergies with other ecosystem services (ES), remain challenging. We aimed at using spatial analyses to evaluate the targeting performance of Mexico's National PHS program in central Veracruz. We quantified the effectiveness of areas targeted for PHS in actually covering areas of high HS provision and social priority during 2003-2013. First, we quantified provisioning and spatial distributions of two target (water yield and soil retention), and one non-target ES (carbon storage) using InVEST. Subsequently, pairwise relationships among ES were quantified by using spatial correlation and overlap analyses. Finally, we evaluated targeting by: (i) prioritizing areas of individual and overlapping ES; (ii) quantifying spatial co-occurrences of these priority areas with those targeted by PHS; (iii) evaluating the extent to which PHS directly contribute to HS delivery; and (iv), testing if PHS targeted areas disproportionately covered areas with high ecological and social priority. We found that modelled priority areas exhibited non-random distributions and distinct spatial patterns. Our results show significant pairwise correlations between all ES suggesting synergistic relationships. However, our analysis showed a significantly lower overlap than expected and thus significant mismatches between PHS targeted areas and all types of priority areas. These findings suggest that the targeting of areas with high HS provisioning and social priority by Mexico's PHS program could be improved significantly. This study underscores: (1) the importance of using maps of HS provisioning as main targeting criteria in PHS design to channel payments towards areas that require future conservation, and (2) the need for future research that helps balance ecological and socioeconomic targeting criteria.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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© 2018 Mokondoko et al.



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