What are Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES)?1
PES is a generic name for a variety of arrangements through which the beneficiaries of ecosystem services pay the providers of those services.2 The term covers payments for sustainable management of water resources, forests, agricultural land or biodiversity conservation that is delivering ecosystem services for example the storage and/or sequestration of carbon in biomass or the provisioning of clean drinking water by natural forests to communities and cities. (For more information please see our Frequently Used Terms, or see our related blog posts under the category PES)
International Payments for Ecosystem Services (IPES)
Global biodiversity benefits – including carbon storage, genetic information for bio-industry and pharmaceuticals, international hydrological services, wildlife and landscape beauty – need to be recognised, and costs and benefits fairly shared if we are to halt their degradation. Commitment to IPES can help secure rewards for such benefits. Without this, the decision facing many land owners, as well as local and national governments will remain tilted against conservation and opportunities to contribute to conserving or maintaining their international public good values will be missed. Several instruments can be broadly classified as a form of IPES,3 including bioprospecting, conservation concessions, biodiversity offsets and international grants. REDD is also an example of this IPES scheme.
PES, REDD and REDD+
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is a set of steps designed to use market/financial incentives in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation at a global level. In short, payments (PES) would be made to conserve or replant areas of forests.
The Story of REDD and REDD+: At the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP-11, Montreal, 2005), Papua New Guinea proposed integrating a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation into the post-2012 climate change regime. The proposal received widespread support and a formal process was created to examine the possibility of positive incentives and policy approaches for REDD. At COP-14, the items on conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks were highlighted as being of equal importance. This gave rise to the latest term within the REDD negotiations, namely REDD-Plus (REDD+).4
From a TEEB perspective REDD and REDD+ have significant potential to also benefit biodiversity, since a decline in deforestation and degradation implies a decline in habitat destruction, landscape fragmentation and biodiversity loss. At the global scale Turner et. al5 examined how ecosystem services (including climate regulation) and biodiversity coincide and conclude that tropical forests offer the greatest synergy. These cover about 7% of the world’s terrestrial surface6 yet the world’s forests contain 80 to 90% of terrestrial biodiversity.7 Targeting national REDD activities at areas combining high carbon stocks and high biodiversity can potentially maximise co-benefits (where there are mutual benefits).
A REDD-Plus mechanism could have additional positive impacts on biodiversity if achieved through appropriate restoration of degraded forest ecosystems and landscapes. Afforestation and reforestation (A/R) activities can provide incentives to regenerate forests in deforested areas and increase connectivity between forest habitats. Reforestation relates to areas previously covered in forest and afforestation relates to areas not previously covered in forests.
However, there is a need to look at things holistically and avoid potential negative effects. A/R activities under a future REDD mechanism that result in monoculture plantations (where one species of tree is planted) could have negative impacts on biodiversity: firstly, there are lower levels of biodiversity in monoculture plantations compared to most natural forest and secondly, the use of alien species could have additional negative impacts. Conversely, planting mixed native species in appropriate locations could yield multiple benefits for biodiversity. Plantations can also reduce pressures on natural forests for the supply of fuel and fibre.
REDD and REDD+ are a step in the right direction, but more discussion needs to be raised with regards to incorporating the conservation of biodiversity into its strategy, as part of the focus on carbon reduction.
<Show video: Oslo and Climate Forest Conference May 2010>
- Taken from the TEEB for National Policy Makers Report Chapter 5 [↩]
- Gutman, P. (2006) PES: A WWF Perspective. Presentation given at the Workshop on: Conservation Finance, Global Biodiversity Forum, Curitiba, Brazil, March 25th 2006, URL: http://assets.panda.org/downloads/peswwfmpo.pdf (last access Nov 11, 2009). [↩]
- OECD – Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (2009) International Financing for Biodiversity Conservation: An Overview of Innovative Approaches and Persistent Challenges. Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation, Paris. [↩]
- TEEB for National Policy Makers Report Chapter 5, page 24, Box 5.10 “The evolution of REDD-Plus under the UNFCCC,” Source: Angelsen and Wertz-Kanounnikoff 2008 [↩]
- Turner, W.R.; Brandon, K.; Brooks, T.M.; Costanza, R.; da Fonseca, G.A.B. and Portela, R. (2007) Global conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. BioScience 57: 868-873 [↩]
- Lindsey, R. (2007) Tropical Deforestation. NASA Earth Observatory, 30 March 2007, URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Deforestation/ (last access Nov 12, 2009). [↩]
- FAO – Food and Agriculture Organisation (2000) Global forest resource Assessment. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, available at: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/003/y1997E/frA%202000%20Main%20report.pdf (last access Oct 26,2009). [↩]