Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas: A ‘Cookbook’ for Emerging IES Practitioners in the Region
When problems arise in pursuing civic progress, the environment is often pitted against development. In contrast, Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) is part of a ‘toolkit’ that intends to support improvements to environmental quality and human well-being simultaneously. What are Incentives for Ecosystem Services?
IES works by identifying and establishing ‘win-win’ agreements among the providers of ecosystem services (the land owners, managers or communities that influence land, water, goods and services), and the beneficiaries, whether they are nearby — in a downstream urban area — or more distant “users”. In IES programmes, individuals or groups owning or managing a resource or land area receive a benefit (in the form of a payment or other non-monetary benefit) in exchange for managing actions that result in the provision to others of an ecological service that would otherwise not exist (Wunder, 2005). By definition, IES is a voluntary transaction, involving a well-defined ecosystem service, from a specific geographic origin, of a set quantity/quality, over a set period of time. According to a pre-agreed system, the deposit is transferred from the user to the ecosystem service provider, via the IES system. The IES system includes the agreement, the duration, the verification, and mechanisms for consultation and improvement over time.
Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) is a tool used to address declines in ecosystem services. Individuals or groups owning or managing a resource or land area receive a benefit (in the form of a payment or other non-monetary benefit) in exchange for managing actions that result in the provision to others of an ecological service that would otherwise not exist.
A municipality pays a community to prevent illegal deforestation and poaching. A government programme pays a landowner to plant trees on an eroding hillside to protect water quality for the city downstream.
A private tourism operator pays a community to remove waste and weeds from a scenic lake. A decorator pays a higher price for flowers after a grower has documented its organic production and ‘pollinator friendly practices’.
Public or communal seller
Table 1. Types of IES transfers and examples, in this case involving transfer of money
Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas
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