What are Rewards for Environmental Services?
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 available to external beneficiaries. While the need for conservation and restoration of Africa’s ecosystems is clear, the best way to meet that need is not.
Forest Trends recognizes four types of payment mechanisms:
- 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.