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Ecosystem Services ‘Need Knowledge Sharing’

Despite widespread global use of payments for ecosystem services, more can be done to share information and learning garnered from such projects, according to research published in the journal Ecosystem Services.

In Payments for ecosystem services: A review and comparison of developing and industrialized countries, researchers reviewed every published paper that has addressed payments for ecosystem services (PES): some 457 at the time of the analysis. Papers reviewed included projects from every heavily populated continent.

Researchers Sarah Schomers and Bettina Matzdorf write that they “hardly found any literature” that advocated the transfer of lessons learned and results across countries and continents. Furthermore, the research uncovered “hardly any” direct links between PES projects in industrialized and developing countries, the report says. Links that do exist are on a “very theoretical level,” the report says.

This lack of knowledge sharing is probably due to historical, cultural, political and institutional differences, the authors say.

The majority of case studies, some 85 percent, concerned projects in developing countries, particularly in Latin AmericaHowever, the authors highlight that PES projects have a longer history in developed countries, dating back to agri-environment schemes with origins in the late 1960s and 1970s in the US, and early 1980s in the European Union.

PES programs in developing countries mainly relate to reforestation and sustainable forest management practices aimed at halting deforestation. Programs in industrialized countries tends to focus on “agricultural plots and working landscapes,” the report says.

According to a report released in February by BSR, ecosystem services may shape future policy and regulations as well as government expectations of the private sector, particularly on public lands.

BSR identified several emerging trends, such as national governments that are considering expanding GDP measures to include natural capital. The report also found that public-sector exploration of ecosystem services valuation is on the rise and governments are interested in attracting investment in the concept, through eco-compensation mechanisms and payments for ecosystem services.

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