PES & Public Utilities
“Payment for ecosystem services” (PES) is a market-based approach to protecting and restoring the environment. The growing attention to PES from scholars, practitioners, and the conservation community is not just for its potential to enhance the services nature provides for society, but also for its potential to enhance the economic prosperity of the suppliers of those services, including agricultural landowners. However, a number of challenges persist on the demand side of the equation. In particular, who will pay landowners for their stewardship? To date, most PES schemes have relied on government funding, with a small amount developed through market-like trading schemes.
The proposed project will thus explore two innovative approaches to funding PES schemes: (1) the involvement of public utilities in providing incentive programs targeting small and medium-sized farms through various PES opportunities, and (2) the attraction of corporate funding to drive a certification system based on the ecosystem services provided by small and medium-sized farms pursuing restoration activities as a revenue source. Each of these approaches holds real potential for leveraging current incentive programs and generating hybrid models for further motivating land stewardship.