In the early 1900s, New York City began paying for land management in the Catskills watershed to ensure safe drinking water for the city, avoiding the cost of building an expensive water treatment plant.
New York City provides just one example of a growing number of programs — called payment ecosystem services (PES) — in which users who benefit from clean water, habitat conservation, flood protection and other services from ecosystems pay for land management practices to provide these benefits.
No more than a hopeful policy a few decades ago, PES has emerged as a global trend, with hundreds of programs worldwide. This market-based policy approach holds the potential to make trees worth more standing than cut down. But, to date, comprehensive and reliable data have proven difficult to find, obscuring the true status of PES - which PES strategies have grown to scale, which have not, and why.
In a new paper published in Nature Sustainability, researchers find a large and growing global marketplace for ecosystem services. Today, over 550 PES programs are active worldwide, in both developed and developing countries, with more than $36 billion in annual transactions. The study, the first peer-reviewed, global assessment of the trends and current status of PES mechanisms for water, biodiversity and forest/land use carbon, was led by James Salzman, the Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Law, who has joint appointments at the Bren School and at UCLA School of Law, and researchers at Ecosystem Marketplace, an initiative of the non-profit organization Forest Trends.
Full Story at: The UCSB Current
Credit: Andrea Estrada