Environmental services are environmental benefits – particularly biodiversity conservation, watershed services, landscape beauty and carbon sequestration – which are shaped by ecosystem stewards but mostly of benefit to external stakeholders. Rewards for environmental services include a range of incentives, including cash payments, low cost information, marketing, input and credit services, and conditional property rights.
Restoration and better management of degraded ecosystems can restore the resource base of communities who live within the ecosystems and enhance the flows of environmental services
Four types of payment mechanisms are recognized:
- Public payment schemes to private land and forest owners to maintain or enhance ecosystem services;
- Open trading between buyers and sellers under a regulatory cap or floor on the level of ecosystem services to be provided (which function more like our normal concept of “markets”);
- Self-organized private deals in which individual beneficiaries of ecosystem services contract directly with providers of those services; and
- Eco-labeling of products that assures buyers that production processes involved have a neutral or positive effect on ecosystem services.
The shift toward payment or reward mechanisms is premised on the potential of market-based approaches to induce behavioural change among ecosystem stewards toward achieving the twin goals of poverty reduction and ecosystem conservation.
PRESA promotes healthy landscapes and sustainable rural livelihoods through innovative market-based reward mechanisms. The aim is to catalyse policy support and private sector participation for fair and effective environmental service agreements between ecosystem stewards and beneficiaries. ICRAF is working with stakeholders in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Guinea.
Rewarding the upland poor in Asia for the environmental services they provide (RUPES)
RUPES aims to enhance livelihoods and reduce poverty while supporting environmental conservation on biodiversity protection, watershed management, carbon sequestration and landscape beauty at local and global levels. There are RUPES study sites in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Nepal and India.
Sustainable intensification of swidden
About half a billion people, majority of whom are amongst the world’s poorest, practice and depend solely on swidden agriculture or shifting cultivation. The slash-and-burn practices associated with swidden agriculture contribute to deforestation, green-house-gas emissions and also have impacts on the supply of essential environmental services. However, research on these systems has slowed down in recent years. The global extent of swiddens, its trends and its dynamics across regions is not well known. The proposed project would carry out global analysis on development of swidden systems across the humid and sub-humid tropics and the potential impacts on climate change, on poverty alleviation efforts and on the provision of environmental services.