Payments for ecosystem services schemes: project-level insights on benefits for ecosystems and the rural poor.

Payments for ecosystem services schemes: project-level insights on benefits for ecosystems and the rural poor.

Payments  for  ecosystem  services (PES)  provide a market based instrument to motivate changes in land use that degrade ecosystem services. This investigation sought  to better understand how effective PES schemes are in meeting the goals of safeguarding ecosystem services,  while  also  benefitting  local  livelihoods and ensuring pro-poor outcomes.Based on an internet survey of 36 PES projects, including water-bio-diversity and carbon- leading  attributes, and analysis of a sub-set of nine case studies, we explore a range of insights and commonalities between projects.

Findings indicate that in most cases non-financial benefits in the short-term lead to longer term financial  benefits for  landholders, most often as yield  increases, future  harvest  revenue and  access to markets  for  products. Many projects are not quantifying the full range of Ecosystem Service (ES) benefits they are providing however, full compensation for these benefits is not necessary to safeguard the environmental  services. Market mechanisms are an imperfect means of pricing the value of ecosystem services, particularly when enabling policies do not exist or are not consistent (e.g.  policies committing to greenhouse gas emission reductions). While national level  PES  schemes (e.g.  REDD+) share many similarities with project scale PES schemes, they fundamentally differ in their ability to deploy a  full  suite  of  incentives,  policies, and  regulatory interventions  in  order  to  meet  their  domestic  programme  goals,  thus  addressing  equity  and  efficiency needs.

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