Advanced Course on Payments for Environmental Services in Mediterranean Ecosystems

An advanced course on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Mediterranean Ecosystems was held in Zaragoza, Spain from 17-21 February, 2014

The European Forest Institute (EFI), in collaboration with IUCN Mediterranean and Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (CIHEAM/IAMZ), acted as scientific coordinator for the advanced course which brought together technicians, NGO representatives, researchers and university lecturers from around the Mediterranean.

Robert Mavsar (EFI) introduced the course with lectures about ecosystem services (ES), the rationale for related policy intervention and PES preparatory stages. Elena Gorriz (EFIMED-CTFC) presented key concepts about the actors in a PES scheme, institutional aspects of those economic instruments and a case study of payments for the conservation of mature forests. Renowned PES scholars shared their knowledge and experience in PES theory, required spatial and ecological knowledge, contract design, establishing the “price”, and case studies tackling different ecosystem services. 

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During the 5-day course, participants also learned about PES-related challenges in terms of negotiations among stakeholders through a dynamic role play exercise, and the complexity of PES design and financial sustainability by means of group work. The participants also had the opportunity to discuss challenges related to ecosystem services and possible solutions following the PES rationale.

Photo: Maite Aguinaco, IAMZ

In the final sessions, participants debated topics related to the adequacy of labelling existing initiatives “PES”, concerns about the readiness of ES beneficiaries to pay and the impact of PES on rural communities. Opportunities to use PES to raise awareness and funds for natural resources management were also highlighted.

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