ThinkForest Seminar on PES

Government representatives, members of the European Parliament, researchers and sector representatives met in Brussels last November 27th to discuss experiences and opportunities, as well as challenges and open questions on the concept of Payments for Environmental Services (PES) in the Mediterranean Forests.

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Given the high relative value of ecosystem services in Mediterranean forest benefits, PES were found to be a promising instrument that should find a niche in the portfolio of policy tools for addressing the environmental and economic challenges of forestry. Participants highlighted the need for embedding PES initiatives within a broader strategy and in tight coordination with rural development policies.

The existing legislative context was found to be a constraint in some cases. On one hand it restricts the array of actions forest owners may undertake on their forest land to provide additional Ecosystem Services. Conversely, certain regulations addressing the use of ecosystem services (e.g. labeling restriction in artificial water treatments or obligation of offsetting biodiversity impacts) facilitate a framework that incentivizes private companies to engage in PES schemes. Thus, a debate arose about the strictness of the additionality requirement versus the acknowledgement of existing implementations of good practices by some landowners.

Another point of discussion was how to determine the compensation amount paid to providers of Ecosystem Services (e.g., forest owners). Existing instruments are mainly based objectively on foregone benefits or additional costs, whereas, alternative approaches emphasize taking into account the different perceptions of forest owners of the costs incurred in the provision of ecosystem services. Participants also mentioned the difficulties and risks of up-scaling successful PES, which were designed for local initiatives, along with the large potential impact of quasi-PES schemes in rural development.

The seminar concluded that PES are a potential tool for improving the availability of financial resources for forest management.

The event was held at the European Parliament in Brussels and was organized in collaboration between ThinkForest, ForestEurope and NEWFOREX.

More information or contact Marc Palahí, name.surname(at)efi.int

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