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

house to weigh and sort grains, and prepare them for market. In mid-sized communities, management groups may have already established rules, records, and accurate lists of community members and their participation in community decision-making. This can also facilitate equity and representation in benefit sharing, which is particularly important in ensuring that women are included in decisions about and equitable distribution of benefits. In the Himalayas, IES may pertain to compensation for the loss of an ecosystem service (for example when a hydropower structure displaces households). In these cases, benefit sharing or a system of distribution must be used. This may involve the creation of a new benefit-sharing entity, or the use of a system that has previously governed or distributed revenue for other purposes. Equity is an important issue in these cases, as conditions for payment distribution — to whom and how much — are often based on unquantified values and conditions. This can create perceptions of ‘unfairness’ or reinforce power dynamics between communities, governance, or corporate entities which may be undesirable in the long term. Himalayan communities may be practising subsistence farming, they may have limited landholdings and limited infrastructure, ecosystem services may already be treated as a ‘common good’ resource, and there is often a high level of direct dependency on forest resources and other ecosystem services that are not replaceable by market-based goods. These create unique conditions for Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and affect the likelihood of PES success. As a consequence, a broader incentive-based mechanism for ecosystem services can often be more appropriate than purely market-based payment mechanisms. The following sections therefore focus on mountain-specific communities and cases where many of the above conditions apply. Summary: From PES to IES for the Himalayas

communities are for basic services. Services requested by communities may include secured and stable community water sources, health outposts, teachers, schools and education materials, road improvement (especially during the rainy season), reinforced/ stabilized slopes to prevent erosion and landslides, and technical or material assistance to create food diversification, such as the establishment of a fisheries co-op. Non-monetary incentives may therefore be proposed as “payments” to upstream communities, including through development projects or materials or services provided in-kind to benefit numerous members of the community. A second motivation for this form of payment may be that downstream communities may themselves be cash-poor, but may have access to more development assistance or resources that are then proposed as payment. In theHimalayas, technology, infrastructureand facilities (such as banks and institutions to monitor/enforce/ adjudicate agreements) may be lacking. Therefore, particular consideration must be paid to the security, transparency, and social equity issues involved when a payment is intended for an individual, community, or group of recipients. In very small upland communities, sometimes a specific household has traditionally taken on the role of recording and distributing resources: for example, community members may gather at a specific • communities may feel pre-existing community or forest management groups are best prepared to gather and distribute payments or benefits • benefits that are most needed may be of a shared nature (education/healthcare/ technologies and services) Characteristics that may require adjustments to be made to strictly market-based payment solutions • limited land tenure (numerous smallholders or presence of herders across large areas) • high-mountain areas may have limited access to banking, decision-making and community forums • land management activities may already be performed by a communal organization


Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas

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