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Can combining two environmental services under a single PES program result in better environmental outcomes and lower costs?
Published in Rocky Mountain Mathematics Consortium
Volume: 34
Issue: 2
This paper develops an integrated framework for modeling payment for ecosystem services (PES) mechanisms that deliver multiple environmental services. Specifically, under a community-led PES, forest conservation is promoted to deliver carbon and stream water benefits. The upstream community is paid for avoided fuelwood harvesting through a United Nations programme on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) program, whereas additional income is generated from water sales to the downstream communities. A bio-economic model derives optimal level of fuelwood harvesting, which in conjunction with the changing species composition of forests, streamflow hydrology and fire risks, impacts on the carbon and water generation potential of the PES project. Results indicate that forest conservation outcomes are better when water and carbon services are combined, however overall cost to the program is lower under a carbon-based PES. Changing species composition of forests creates tradeoffs between water and carbon benefits. Forest fires further challenge the viability of PES schemes through reducing streamflow and carbon sequestration potential. Recommendations for Resource Managers: Linking two or more environmental services under a single payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme could improve forest conservation through making it more attractive to the participating communities. PES programs that combine multiple environmental services become economically attractive to participating communities through increasing their incomes. For instance, water and carbon driven services complement each other due to the overlapping benefits from improving forest biomass. However, fire risks can lower the benefits from PES and dissuade community participation. Similarly, the ecological and hydrological dimensions of PES projects that offer carbon and water benefits need to be understood and incorporated within PES framework design to enhance their durability. Conservation of mixed forests is more responsive to water-based PES payments, in comparison to monoculture oak forests, however, mixed forests are also more vulnerable to degradation in absence of cooking fuel subsidies. © 2021 The Authors. Natural Resource Modeling published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
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Published in Rocky Mountain Mathematics Consortium
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