Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas: A ‘Cookbook’ for Emerging IES Practitioners in the Region
control activities, providing the action that would not occur without the incentive. Perceptions of ‘fairness’ regarding the distribution of revenue between upstream and downstream communities remain a source of confusion and ongoing tension for many stakeholders, with many downstream households viewing the current distribution of revenue as unfair compared with the consequences of displacement they bore. In 2015, this disagreement resulted in an additional (NPR 1million ~ US$ 10,000) payment to the Kulekhani VDC. Moreover, upstream communities supplying the sediment control service to the hydroelectric plants are not directly targeted by the revenue payments (Upadhyaya, 2003). Possible improvements: The scheme has strong points in terms of local involvement, communication and themonitoring schemes that are in place. However, substantial improvements could be made by more clearly associating the payment with quantified and verified services provided. For example, while some payments are distributed to upstream households, there are no specific actions that are known to be contributing to soil conservation, slope stabilization or erosion control.
One solution could be to earmark 50–60 per cent of the current payment from the electric company to the District Development Council for job creation and specific, measurable actions to prevent forest losses, replant deforested areas, and support other actions that reduce soil erosion. The Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) could be useful intermediaries in this process, as they have proved to be reliable administrators and organizers of activities in IES programmes in other regions. In this way, the distribution of payments could be better targeted to the service providers, or extended to other downstream areas such as Rapti River (Chitwan National Park). Monitoring and enforcement could be decentralized to improve their alignment with regulations and standards. For example, communities could be empowered to prohibit bulldozers and mass sand/rock removal in erosion-prone areas. Study and monitoring of social-environmental conditions over time may help enhance actions that improve both ecosystem services and livelihoods over time. On the positive side, some actions are already being considered, such as the inclusion of high-value products (lemons, medicinal plants, mushrooms, vegetables etc.) in farming.
Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas
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