Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas: A ‘Cookbook’ for Emerging IES Practitioners in the Region

IES incentives are intended to support the livelihoods of those who manage or maintain these ecosystem services. However, if approached solely as a financial mechanism, numerous unintended and negative consequences for both communities and ecosystems can occur. Therefore, a well-designed IES system 1) accounts for benefits to both ecosystems and

livelihoods, 2) has a structure for inclusion of and dialogue among all participants, 3) provides explicit monitoring for unintended consequences, and 4) includes system improvement over time. These components will be presented in the forthcoming chapters, as well as in a concluding section presenting tips to avoid unintended consequences.


INCENTIVES cash, assistance, materials, other incentives


Balances upstream and downstream interest

UPSTREAM COMMUNITY Stewards and providers of watershed services

DOWNSTREAM COMMUNITIES Bene ciaries of watershed services


Creates ecosystem incentives

WATERSHED SERVICES e.g. water puri cation, ood risk mitigation, aquifer recharge, food products and drinking water

ECOSYSTEM CONSERVATION ACTIVITY e.g. reforestation, erosion control actions, halting of illegal activity, waste control, etc.

Figure 1. How IES works in watersheds (adapted from Smith et al., 2013).


Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas

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