There is an increasingly widespread recognition of the value provided by the natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides including food, water, energy, carbon sequestration, waste decomposition and recreation.
The National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) of the UK was published in June 2011 and provides a comprehensive analysis of the benefits provided to society. Valuing the services provided by ecosystems is important to be able to establish payments for ecosystem services (PES).
PES can be defined as payments to land owners to undertake actions that increase the levels of desired ecosystem services. PES are a contract for services provided rather than a subsidy. Environmental Stewardship schemes are a type of PES. The Government, on behalf of the public, pays land owners to manage their sites so that ecosystem benefits, such as habitat creation, are realised.
The private sector can also pay for ecosystem services. For example in the late 1980s Vittel recognised that its water quality was at serious risk due to more intensive farming which was increasing the nitrate concentration of the water supply. To prevent excessive nitrate levels Vittel pays local farmers to adopt less intensive farming practices and improve soil conditions. Almost all of the largest farms in the area agreed contracts with Vittel of between 18 to 30 years.
Receiving payment for the provision of ecosystem services is currently primarily achieved through Government schemes such as Statutory Environmental Funding. However it is a developing concept and further opportunities may be available in the future.
Can your site benefit from statutory environmental funding?
Does your site provide important functions for local businesses? (for example flood control, water purification)
Get funding for land management that you are already undertaking.
Defra has produced several reports examining the ecosystem services - http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/ecosystems-services/
Beam Parklands is a 53 hectare site which provides functional flood prevention and public open space for the community. The site is a floodplain of...View Case Study >
Langdon Lake and Meadows is a 16 hectare site that was formally agricultural land. The site includes woodland, grass and scrub land and a lak...View Case Study >