PRESA was born from various initiatives and research, conducted from within and outside ICRAF.

Early beginnings

In 1998, the ICRAF regional programme for Southeast Asia convened a major international workshop on land use and environmental services in Asia that concluded that there were major differences in the environmental services generated by different farming systems and that rewards could be an important means for giving farmers incentives to maintain socially-beneficial land uses.

Also in 1998, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) commissioned a study of the potential for payment for environmental services to be pro-poor.


The RUPES project – Rewarding the Upland Poor of Asia for the Environmental Services they provide – began in the year 2000 with support from IFAD, and is led by ICRAF’s team in Southeast Asia and implemented with a range of national and international partners. The main objective of RUPES is to create the basis for proven institutional mechanisms for recognising and rewarding IFAD target groups for the environmental services they provide. RUPES adopted a broad perspective of rewards for environmental services that includes conditional compensation for foregoing rights to emissions, conditional monetary payments, and conditional tenurial rights. A variety of assessment, negotiation, monitoring and evaluation approaches have been developed and applied in the course of the RUPES project, and PRESA will build upon and adapt these tools for application in the highlands of East and West Africa. The RUPES experience is one of the most important resources that ICRAF and IFAD together bring to the PRESA project

IFAD has focused more attention on payments for ecosystem services in Africa since 2005, approving external grants to ISRIC-the World Soil Information Centre, which launched the Greenwater Credits initiative, and to Forest Trends, to facilitate the launch of the East and Southern Africa node of the Katoomba group. PRESA is collaborating closely with both of these initiatives, to complement and add value to their work.

Pan-Tropical Scoping of Compensation and Rewards for Environmental Services

Since December 2005, ICRAF has been leading a pan-tropical scoping study of compensation for ecosystem services for the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The African regional workshop of this scoping study concluded that rewards for ecosystem services have great potential in the region, with the major constraints being:

i) limited number of well-designed and piloted reward projects with lessons for replication and scaling up;

ii) limited knowledge of tested tools and methods for assessing, designing and implementing reward schemes;

iii) very limited engagement by the private sector;

iv) unclear policy and institutional arrangements; and

v) lack of expertise.

By building knowledge about rewards for environmental services and sharing this knowledge with a network of sites across Africa, PRESA is helping to address these constraints and complement efforts across the continent and beyond, for establishing fair and effective environmental service agreements.