Does PES actually protect the environment?
Written by Brendan Jackson and Chris Mesiku
Payments for Environmental Services (PES) schemes pay residents to protect the environment at a farm level, in an attempt to halt the impacts of climate change whilst REDD+ incorporates this objectives on a global scale. A recent CIFOR blog suggests that PES implementers can learn from the way REDD+ projects are evaluated and monitored.
PES is a scheme which works at presenting funds to local landowners to protect valuable natural resources “such as forests that reduce erosion, filter water, and harbour biodiversity” writes Karin Holzknecht for CIFOR Blog. There are currently over 300 of these projects worldwide. Since PES schemes try to address environmental issues from an economic point of view they could play a great part in constructing the Green Economy. However, as wonderful as these schemes sound, scientists published in a recent journal that they “consistently lack the comprehensive evaluation that would allow scientists to say for sure to what extent the money put into PES approaches actually improves the environment”.
Since there is little done in monitoring the progress of the protected area or checking whether it is actually being protected it is hard to determine if the scheme is effective. The fact that individuals are still paid whether or not they carry out their duties makes potential investors doubt the effectiveness of PES schemes.
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) has already set a much larger scale form of PES in motion: with governments and organisations receiving payment for reducing greenhouse gasses and logging. The major difference is that REDD+ payments are not made until there is a significant development towards a pre-set goal of the well-being of the ecosystem in question.
If PES schemes could learn from REDD+ policies, suggests Karin, scientists may be able to create robust evaluations of PES projects at a local or international scale.