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

This publication pertains specifically to mountain ecosystem services, and the mountain characteristics that can affect service flows. These can include ecosystems, markets, changes and disruptions, transports, and community participation, among other considerations. Mountain ecosystem services can be particularly challenging, because there is a strong upstream-downstream connection between where they are sourced (high in a watershed) and where they are consumed (far downstream), especially because producers and consumers may be unaware of this connection. Mountain ecosystem services

Management in mountain ecosystems is challenging, not only because of their remoteness and limited access, but also because communities and ecosystems are often closely linked. Management must account for these connections, traditions, and the fact that market-based substitutes for many ecosystem services are often not available. Thus, guaranteeing that flows of ecosystem services continue is crucial to the lives and livelihoods of mountain residents upstream. Similarly, creating awareness in downstream populations and urban areas of where their ecosystem services come from, educating that population that ecosystem services may be at risk, and attempting to establish willingness to pay or to provide other forms of incentives for services among downstream residents, can be challenging. Many upstream communities may already be searching for ways to diversify their economy and income, or help their landscapes and communities become more resilient to climate change. However, they may have limited access to the materials, training and services they need to establish ecosystem service conservation action. In these cases, even small incentives can make large differences to lives, livelihoods, and the ecosystem and its services simultaneously.

In mountain ecosystems, the need for water is often a cause for concern, both in upstream and downstream locations. In many places, water availability and management has an increased focus due to the prognosis for climate-induced changes Factors making mountain ecosystem services unique • services often flow long distances (upstream/ downstream) • small changes in climate/precipitation can lead to big changes in services • challenging geography for transport and infrastructure (access to materials/markets) • marked contrast between urban lifestyles (perhaps disconnected from nature) and rural livelihoods (with direct ecosystem connection) • tourism and recreation services may be prominent • extraction of mineral resources may impact ecosystem services • development/land use/climate change may affect traditional migration routes • traditional knowledge may be closely linked with mountain lifestyles • mountain areas may have hazards/dangers/ service disruptions not present in non- mountain areas • unique spiritual importance of and in mountains which may not be apparent to visitors

Mountain ecosystem services can be particularly challenging, because there is a strong upstream- downstream connection between where they are sourced and where they are consumed.


Incentives for Ecosystem Services (IES) in the Himalayas

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