Payments for Environmental Services: a way forward for Mediterranean forests?
Over 65% of the total economic value of Mediterranean forests comes from non-wood forest products and services. Yet, forest owners and managers, whose land-use decisions affect the provision of these goods and services, cannot capture this value, as most of it remains outside traditional markets. Payments for environmental services (PES) offer one solution to this challenge. Landowners or managers are paid for the provision of certain environmental services, or for a particular forest management strategy facilitating the environmental services desired, by users or beneficiaries of these services. PES have recently attracted attention from policymakers in both developing and developed countries, where both small-scale pilots and nationwide PES programmes have mushroomed.
PES schemes have certain advantages. They are more flexible than traditional command-and-control regulation, and can be designed to adapt to region specifics. They encourage behavioural changes in a non-coercive and potentially participatory and equitable manner. They can also lead to the mobilization of new financial resources from the private sector, leveraging public funding and achieving improved environmental results. Public and private participation can often be combined to maximize service delivery in each specific context and PES may have important rural development potential.
Photo: Elge / www.fotolia.com
In the Mediterranean region, however, payments for environmental services remain relatively infrequent. The most well-known, documented examples are PES schemes for biodiversity conservation and watershed management. Yet through their wide applicability, PES have good potential to improve particular environmental aspects, which include promoting adaptive forest management, lowering fire risk, improving erosion control and increasing water use efficiency.
PES are a novel and frequently attractive policy instrument with a high potential to pool public and private funds to address the challenges facing Mediterranean forests, and therefore deserve closer attention.
A ThinkForest Seminar on “Payments for Environmental Services: a way forward for Mediterranean forests?” organized on 27 November 2012 at 16:00-18:30 in the European Parliament, Brussels, will gather together scientists and policymakers to discuss the potential for PES to address specific problems of Mediterranean forests, based on the latest scientific knowledge and experience from PES implementation in the Mediterranean context.
For more details on the ThinkForest seminar, see the article below.
This article has been adapted from the EFI Policy Brief 7 Payments for Environmental Services: A Way Forward for Mediterranean Forests?
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