Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in the face of external biophysical stressors

ArticleinGlobal Environmental Change 30:31-42 · January 2015with 1,602 Reads
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  • Article
    Payments for environmental services (PES) have become a popular approach to address environmental degradation. However, evidence on its effectiveness is scarce and rather mixed. PES is not a panacea, but there are many cases where PES can be a promising tool. Yet, poor PES design translates into poor performance of the instrument. PES design is a complex task; the devil is in the detail of a number of PES design features. The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance in dealing with this complexity through a comprehensive review of PES design that is accessible to both academics and practitioners. Practitioner guidelines on deciding whether PES is the best approach and for selecting among alternative design features are presented. PES design has to start from a careful understanding of the specific ecological and socio-economic context. We now know a lot about which design features are best suited to which context. It is time to put these insights into practice.
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    Old growth mangroves in existing protected areas store more carbon than restored forests or plantations. Carbon storage in such forests has economic value independent of additionality, offering opportunities for policy makers to ensure their maintenance, and inclusion in climate change mitigation strategies. Mangrove forests of the Everglades National Park (ENP), South Florida, though protected, face external stressors such as hydrological alterations because of flooding control structures and agriculture impacts and saltwater intrusion as a result of increasing sea level rise. Moreover, decreased funding of Everglades’ restoration activities following the recent economic crisis (beginning 2008) threatens the restoration of the Greater Everglades including mangrove dominated coastal regions. We evaluate several economic and ecological challenges confronting the economic valuation of total (vegetation plus soil) organic carbon (TOC) storage in the ENP mangroves. Estimated TOC storage for this forested wetland ranges from 70 to 537 Mg C/ha and is higher than values reported for tropical, boreal, and temperate forests. We calculate the average abatement cost of C specific for ENP mangroves to value the TOC from $2–$3.4 billion; estimated unit area values are $13,859/ha–$23,728/ha. The valuation of the stored/legacy carbon is based on the: 1) ecogeomorphic attributes, 2) regional socio-economic milieu, and 3) status of the ENP mangroves as a protected area. The assessment of C storage estimates and its economic value can change public perception about how this regulating ecosystem service of ENP mangrove wetlands (144,447 ha) supports human well-being and numerous economic activities. This perception, in turn, can contribute to future policy changes such that the ENP mangroves, the largest mangrove area in the continental USA, can be included as a potential alternative in climate change mitigation strategies.
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    The protection of intertidal ecosystems is complex because they straddle both marine and terrestrial realms. This leads to inconsistent characterisation as marine and/or terrestrial systems, or neither. Vegetated intertidal ecosystems are especially complex to classify because they can have an unclear border with terrestrial vegetation, causing confusion around taxonomy (e.g., mangrove-like plants). This confusion and inconsistency in classification can impact these systems through poor governance and incomplete protection. Using Australian mangrove ecosystems as a case study, we explore the complexity of how land and sea boundaries are defined among jurisdictions and different types of legislation, and how these correspond to ecosystem boundaries. We demonstrate that capturing vegetated intertidal ecosystems under native vegetation laws and prioritizing the mitigation of threats with a terrestrial origin offers the greatest protection to these systems. We also show the impact of inconsistent boundaries on the inclusion of intertidal ecosystems within protected areas. The evidence presented here highlights problems within the Australian context, but most of these issues are also challenges for the management of intertidal ecosystems around the world. Our study demonstrates the urgent need for a global review of legislation governing the boundaries of land and sea to determine whether the suggestions we offer may provide global solutions to ensuring these critical systems do not fall through the cracks in ecosystem protection and management.
  • Article
    Extreme events such as storm surges and tsunamis in combination with subsidence of densely populated coastal areas pose an increasing threat to millions of people in the tropics. Intertidal mangrove forests may form a natural protection against some extreme events, but have also widely been destroyed by coastal development. The establishment of mangroves and the maintenance of their stability over the short- to long-term requires an understanding of sedimentary processes and landforms in the coastal zone, making geomorphology a crucial, but sometimes neglected discipline when attempting restoration for disaster risk reduction. Mangrove geomorphic setting varies markedly across the tropics, depending on abiotic parameters such as suspended sediment supply and tidal range, with different restoration strategies suitable for each. In this study we provide a global categorization of mangrove geomorphic settings, based on the literature and global remote sensing data. The world's mangroves can be broadly defined as 1) minerogenic and high tidal range; 2) minerogenic and low tidal range; and 3) organogenic and low tidal range. We further discuss restoration and management approaches most suitable for each geomorphic setting. Overall, this study can be used to inform managers about the relevance of geomorphic knowledge for successful mangrove restoration, how an understanding of geomorphology can influence site selection and restoration success, and how to match specific restoration methods to the prevailing geomorphic context. The stronger incorporation of geomorphic knowledge into site planning and design will improve the success rates of restoration for this important and globally threatened ecosystem. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  • Article
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    Rises in sea level can alter the distribution of coastal wetlands through migration landward and loss due to inundation. The expansion of coastal developments can prevent potential wetland migration, exacerbating loss as sea levels rise. Pre-emptive planning to set aside key coastal areas for wetland migration is therefore critical for the long term preservation of species habitat and ecosystem services, yet we have little understanding of the economic costs and benefits of doing so. Using data and simulations from Queensland, Australia, we show that the opportunity cost of preserving wetlands is likely to be much higher under sea level rise than under current sea levels. However, we find that payments for ecosystem services can alleviate these costs, and in many cases may make expanding the reserve network profitable in the long run. This highlights the need to develop markets and payment mechanisms for ecosystem services to support climate change adaptation policies for coastal wetlands. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
  • Article
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    In spite of broad and positive expectations, payments for ecosystem services (PES) can bring about unexpected and negative consequences, especially in terms of their impacts on the well-being of local communities dependent on ecosystems. Based on numerous observations of recurring problems with PES, we put forward an ecosystem service curse hypothesis (Kronenberg and Hubacek in Ecol Soc 18:art.10. doi:10.5751/ES-05240- 180110, 2013), that points to counterintuitive negative development outcomes for countries and regions rich in ecosystem services. The social and economic problems that we have been able to depict in many PES schemes reflect the persistence of maladaptive states in pursuit of sustainability. Instead of providing an opportunity to break out of poverty, these problems reflect entrapment, which is most often related to poor quality of institutions. Here we highlight the linkages between the ecosystem service curse hypothesis and the dynamic system stability landscapes discussed in this special issue. Our article consists of three parts in which we: (1) present the original ecosystem service curse hypothesis; (2) link this hypothesis to the broader discussions relevant to sustainability science; and (3) highlight the context of traps on which this special feature focuses.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Payments for environmental services (PES) have become a popular approach to address environmental degradation. However, evidence on its effectiveness is scarce and rather mixed. PES is not a panacea, but there are many cases where PES can be a promising tool. Yet, poor PES design translates into poor performance of the instrument. PES design is a complex task; the devil is in the detail of a number of PES design features. The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance in dealing with this complexity through a comprehensive review of PES design that is accessible to both academics and practitioners. Practitioner guidelines on deciding whether PES is the best approach and for selecting among alternative design features are presented. PES design has to start from a careful understanding of the specific ecological and socio-economic context. We now know a lot about which design features are best suited to which context. It is time to put these insights into practice.
  • Article
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    Coastal area is a typical, complex area interacted between terrestrial and ocean systems. Catastrophic regime shifts of coastal ecosystem may occur as a result of gradual changing forces exerted by external factors. In this study, we presented an indicator-based framework which includes the land-water-biodiversity (LWB) nexus indices of catastrophe analysis to emphasize resilience of Xiamen, a coastal city of China, associated with implementation of integrated coastal management (ICM). The results demonstrate the changes of equilibria in land, water, and biodiversity subsystems that were divided into three periods (1996–2000, 2000–2012, and 2012–2015). The implementation of several ICMs helped to preserve resilient coastal ecosystems since 1997, which indicates effective guidance of resilient coastal management on coastal land, water and biodiversity. Based on trends of indicator changes, we identified the main indicators controlling catastrophic transformation of the LWB nexus system state, which include built-up area and coastal reclaimed area in land subsystem, seawater quality in water subsystem, and all four biodiversity indices. The identified key drivers to catastrophic regime shifts can help to navigate decision making in resilient coastal ecosystem management. The Xiamen case study provides a systematic and quantitative framework for resilience assessment of integrated coastal management and sustainable development.
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    Regulating ecosystem services (ES) fundamentally underpin biosphere integrity, human safety, and the provision of most other ES. However, the pathways by which regulating ES generate benefits for people are complex and vary spatially and temporally. Emerging ES decision-making frameworks underemphasize regulating services because they focus on ES that have more obvious links to human wellbeing (e.g., in close proximity to beneficiaries with very short time lags). Lack of attention towards regulating ES can lead to unintended management trade-offs that create risk for human wellbeing and can cause immediate and delayed impacts on cultural and provisioning ES. Therefore, a remaining challenge for ES frameworks is to address the full ensemble of processes and feedbacks whereby ecosystems contribute to human wellbeing over time, including through regulating services. We address this challenge by (i) reviewing the complexities associated with regulating ES components—capacity, ecological pressures, and demand, (ii) exploring the spatial and temporal variability that influence regulating ES components, including the flow of service benefits, and (iii) illustrating the interdependency of regulating ES components through examples of ES that are linked hydrologically. We conclude that ES capacity, pressure, demand and the flow of benefits are distinct, but intricately linked components that influence how regulating ES provide benefits and improve human wellbeing. We pose that ES assessment frameworks could be improved by including indicators of regulating ES that differentiate between the capacity to provide a regulating ES, the demand for the same, and the actual service that is conveyed, the latter of which is influenced by underlying capacity and ecological pressure. These indicators should also be spatially and temporally explicit to fully incorporate the dynamic influence of temporal variability, spatial scale, and landscape configuration on regulating ES and the benefits they yield.
  • Technical Report
    El presente documento pretende establecer las bases conceptuales con respecto a la aplicación de instrumentos económicos en procesos de conservación de la biodiversidad y los servicios ecosistémicos (BySE), para sustentar la estrategia BanCO2. Inicialmente, se brinda una contextualización sobre instrumentos económicos, tanto en definiciones como en clasificaciones, para posteriormente revisar algunas experiencias de aplicación de PSE a nivel nacional y de allí rescatar algunas lecciones aprendidas para la formulación de la estrategia en el departamento del Meta. Finalmente, se establece un esquema conceptual con respecto a la implementación de la estrategia en el departamento.
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    Saltmarshes provide important services including flood control, climate regulation, and provisioning services when grazed by livestock for agriculture and conservation purposes. Grazing diminishes aboveground carbon, creating a trade-off between these two services. Furthermore, saltmarshes are threatened by overgrazing. To provide saltmarsh protection and ensure the continuing delivery of ecosystem services, there is a need to incentivise land managers to stock environmentally sensible densities. We therefore investigated the possibility of agri-environmental schemes and Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) to compensate for lost livestock revenue under reduced grazing regimes and provide carbon sequestration and other benefits. This is the first study to consider the benefits arising from a potential carbon market to saltmarshes, although similar schemes exist for peatland and woodland. We calculated the net economic benefit (costs of livestock production are removed from revenue) to farmers obtained from a hectare of grazed saltmarsh under low (0.3 Livestock Units per hectare per year), moderate (0.6), high (1.0) and very high (2.0) stocking densities accounting for livestock revenue, carbon benefits, and agri-environmental subsidies. We repeated the procedure considering additional benefits transferred from the literature in terms of provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services provided by protected saltmarshes. The net benefits were assessed for a range of market carbon prices and social costs of carbon, e.g. the opportunity cost of carbon for society. Applying the model to Scottish saltmarshes we find that the current range of market prices could prompt transitions from high to moderate regimes in areas where livestock value is low, however break-even prices for transitions showed high spatial variability due to spatial variability in livestock values. In some areas of the West Highlands, the break-even carbon price is negative, indicating that the current agri-environmental schemes are able to more than compensate for the lost revenue accruing to farmers by a reduced grazing density. However, in other areas, such as the Outer Hebrides, the break-even carbon price is positive. Private PES schemes or increased public subsidies should then be provided to generate net benefits. It is reasonable to infer that a pure carbon market may have limited scope in incentivising consumers to buy carbon services, especially in areas with limited local number of buyers and corporates of small size. Under this circumstance, a premium carbon market offering bundled ecosystem services may help reduce grazing pressure across a larger number of Scottish saltmarshes, thereby providing globally important climate regulation services and at the same time protecting sensitive habitats.
  • Article
    Agricultural fires are a double-edged sword that allow for cost-efficient land management in the tropics but also cause accidental fires and emissions of carbon and pollutants. To control fires in Amazon, it is currently unclear whether policy-makers should prioritize command-and-control or incentive-based instruments such as REDD +. Aiming to generate knowledge about the relative merits of the two policy approaches, this paper presents a spatially-explicit agent-based model that simulates the causal effects of four policy instruments on intended and unintended fires. All instruments proved effective in overturning the predominance of highly profitable but risky fire-use and decreasing accidental fires, but none were free from imperfections. The performance of command-and-control proved highly sensitive to the spatial and social reach of enforcement. Side-effects of incentive-based instruments included a disproportionate increase in controlled fires and a reduced acceptance of conservation subsidies, caused by the prohibition of reckless fires, and also indirect deforestation. The instruments that were most effective in reducing deforestation were not the most effective in reducing fires and vice-versa, which suggests that the two goals cannot be achieved with a single policy intervention.
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    The terrestrial biosphere absorbs about 20% of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions. The overall magnitude of this sink is constrained by the difference between emissions, the rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and the ocean sink. However, the land sink is actually composed of two largely counteracting fluxes that are poorly quantified: fluxes from land-use change and CO2 uptake by terrestrial ecosystems. Dynamic global vegetation model simulations suggest that CO2 emissions from land-use change have been substantially underestimated because processes such as tree harvesting and land clearing from shifting cul- tivation have not been considered. As the overall terrestrial sink is constrained, a larger net flux as a result of land-use change implies that terrestrial uptake of CO2 is also larger, and that terrestrial ecosystems might have greater potential to sequester carbon in the future. Consequently, reforestation projects and efforts to avoid further deforestation could represent important mitigation pathways, with co-benefits for biodiversity. It is unclear whether a larger land carbon sink can be reconciled with our current understanding of terrestrial carbon cycling. Our possible underestimation of the historical residual terrestrial carbon sink adds further uncertainty to our capacity to predict the future of terrestrial carbon uptake and losses.
  • Chapter
    The Sundaland biodiversity hotspot, defined by the biogeographic divides of the Kangar-Pattani line to the north and the Wallace’s line to the East, is a terrestrial unit of conservation priority within Southeast Asia. Within the Sundaland biodiversity hotspot—that includes the Nicobar Islands, part of the Malay Peninsula (southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia), Singapore, Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Borneo—are areas either currently under intense development pressures, or areas that have undergone significant anthropogenic transformation. The first chapter of this book introduces ecological concepts and the ecosystem services rendered by coastal and inland wetlands within Sundaland.
  • Article
    Mangrove forests provide a multitude of ecosystem services, many of which contribute to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) along tropical coastlines. In the face of rapid deforestation, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has been heralded as a potential avenue for financing conservation, although PES schemes remain in an embryonic state for mangroves. Several challenges must be overcome if mangrove PES is to advance. Firstly, challenges exist in quantifying multiple ecosystem services, especially those that contribute to DRR, such as wave attenuation and the control of coastal erosion. Secondly, the permanence of quantified ecosystem services is a central tenet of PES, but is not guaranteed in the dynamic coastal zone. Mangroves are affected by multiple stressors related to natural hazards and climate change, which are often outside of the control of a PES site manager. This will necessitate Financial Risk Management strategies, which are not commonly used in coastal PES, and introduces a number of management challenges. Finally, and most importantly, PES generally requires the clear identification and pairing of separate service providers and service users, who can potentially overlap in the context of DRR. This chapter reviews and discusses these emerging issues, and proposes potential solutions to contribute to the more effective implementation of mangrove PES. Ultimately however, difficulties in pairing separate and discreet service providers and users may render PES for DRR unfeasible in some settings, and we may need to continue traditional modes of DRR finance such as insurance and donor support.
  • Chapter
    In this chapter, Unai Pascual and colleagues address the link between sustainable forest management initiatives, the climate change policy arena and foreign aid. Pascual et al. discuss the role of foreign aid in helping to achieve sustainable forest management, framing this as the condition for delivering multiple ecosystem services, and considering the potential for donor support for the forestry sector associated with new climate finance. The chapter explores the conditions for promoting forest conservation through foreign aid, taking into account the varying interests of multiple actors. The authors warn that while REDD+ financing, catalysed by foreign aid, has the potential to move beyond traditional sustainable forest management efforts, the mechanism still faces uncertainty over the long-term sustainability of financing, thus affecting the scalability of the mechanism.
  • Article
    Many drivers of mangrove forest loss operate over large scales and are most effectively addressed by policy interventions. However, conflicting or unclear policy objectives exist at multiple tiers of government, resulting in contradictory management decisions. To address this, we considered 4 approaches that are being used increasingly or could be deployed in Southeast Asia to ensure sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation. First, a stronger incorporation of mangroves into marine protected areas (MPAs) (that currently focus largely on reefs and fisheries) could resolve some policy conflicts and ensure that mangroves do not fall through a policy gap. Second, examples of community and government co-management exist, but achieving co-management at scale will be important in reconciling stakeholders and addressing conflicting policy objectives. Third, private-sector initiatives could protect mangroves through existing and novel mechanisms in degraded areas and areas under future threat. Finally, payments for ecosystem services (PES) hold great promise for mangrove conservation; REDD-style carbon schemes (known as blue carbon) are attracting attention. Although barriers remain to the implementation of PES, the potential to implement them at multiple scales exists. Closing the gap between mangrove conservation policies and action is crucial to the improved protection and management of this imperilled coastal ecosystem and to the livelihoods that depend on them.
  • Article
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    Environmental sustainability relies on the adequate financing of biodiversity conservation—increasingly from the private sector. Meanwhile, corporate sustainability relies on the effective management of natural capital and ecosystem services used in production. Payments for ecosystem services (PES) offers an important practical mechanism for addressing these issues. However, the uptake of corporate-financed PES has been underwhelming, implying that companies may face institutional and motivational challenges to participate in PES. This article presents an assessment framework to determine the conduciveness of PES to real-world corporate environmental strategies and actions, be they (a) voluntary or compliance-based, (b) reactive or proactive, (c) requiring low or high amounts of data, (d) seeking a direct or indirect return on investment (ROI), (e) conducted proximal to or far from the operation site, (f) short-term or long-term, and (g) utilising internal or external resources. Interview data elicited from public, private, and civil sector actors in Thailand and the Philippines highlights key barriers to corporate-financed PES. Results imply companies may be: (1) hesitant to get involved with unknown or uncertain concepts such as ecosystem services; (2) reluctant to fund the technical studies and repeat payments that PES requires; (3) disinterested in direct ROI—instead content with philanthropic projects that can boost public relations; and (4) bound by protocols that restrict the spatial and temporal scales at which PES can operate. To overcome these challenges, policy makers could devise reputational and economic incentives, and incorporate ecosystem services into existing institutions such as environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and ISO 14001. Meanwhile, PES practitioners (government agencies and NGOs) should use quick and simple metrics to quantify ecosystem services, and tolerate buyer willingness-to-pay. Increasing corporate ecosystem service demand, and participation in PES, will likely require firm-level institutional change, and business strategies to improve supply chain management and mitigate the negative effects of environmental and climate change.
  • Article
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    The combination of climate change and urbanization projected to occur until 2050 poses new challenges for land-use planning, not least in terms of reducing urban vulnerability to hazards from projected increases in the frequency and intensity of climate extremes. Interest in investments in green infrastructure (interconnected systems of parks, wetlands, gardens and other green spaces), as well as in restoration of urban ecosystems as part of such adaptation strategies, is growing worldwide. Previous research has highlighted the insurance value of ecosystems in securing the supply of ecosystem services in the face of disturbance and change, yet this literature neglects urban areas even though urban populations are often highly vulnerable. We revisit the insurance value literature to examine the applicability of the concept in urban contexts, illustrating it with two case studies: watersheds providing drinking water for residents of Vancouver, Canada; and private gardens ensuring connectedness between other parts of urban green infrastructure in London, UK. Our research supports the notion that investments in green infrastructure can enhance insurance value, reducing vulnerability and the costs of adaptation to climate change and other environmental change. Although we recommend that urban authorities consider the insurance value of ecosystems in their decision-making matrix, we advise caution in relying upon monetary evaluations of insurance value. We conclude by identifying actions and management strategies oriented to maintain or enhance the insurance value of urban ecosystems. Ecosystems that are themselves resilient to external disturbances are better able to provide insurance for broader social–ecological systems.
  • Article
    Terrestrial invasive species have been identified as one of the largest threats to endemic plants and wildlife in Galapagos and their spread remains one of the biggest challenges for the region. The management of these species is a common link among all land use activities and their spread impacts all residents as economic activities in Galapagos are linked to its status as a unique landscape. The study aims, through the use of key informant interviews, policy documents and literature, to provide new insights into plant invasive species management by exploring two land use interventions ‐ and the associated challenges and opportunities – currently being proposed by policymakers, academics and other relevant actors. These are 1) local sustainable agricultural production and 2) policies and mechanisms, specifically the ‘Buen vivir’ paradigm with/and Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). It explores how these can create bridges and be beneficial to both conservation and development. However, whilst the initiatives offer real opportunities to manage and control invasive species, challenges remain in the form of how these activities will be carried out and by whom. Findings show that probable success is dependent on community inclusion with coordinated and integrated approaches from robust institutions with connectivity among land use actors/managers. In addition, support is needed for organisations/stakeholders that are currently tackling the invasive species issue. Studies on land use remain crucial as relatively contained and pristine landscapes such as Galapagos are likely to be increasingly important as a means to detect human‐induced alterations at the frontiers of ecology.
  • Article
    Global environmental change has motivated multiple interventions in pursuit of sustainable outcomes within tropical forest landscapes. Fire is recognised as a key stressor facing forest conservation efforts. Large‐scale accidental fires are increasingly prevalent across the forested tropics, generating negative impacts across sectors and scales. Policy responses to mega‐fires in the Brazilian Amazon have been diverse but all are dominated by an anti‐fire narrative that highlights long‐stigmatised smallholder agricultural practices. Despite forest conservation initiatives and fire management policies, escaped fire (wildfire) remains pervasive. Forest conservation initiatives are often situated in contexts where swidden agriculture prevails, generating a need for an improved understanding of the interplay between fire management and conservation initiatives on the ground. We explore these dynamics through a case study approach in three leading forest conservation initiative types, situated across diverse contexts in the Brazilian Amazon: a Reduction of Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) site (in Middle Solimões region), an extractive reserve (RESEX) (in Arapíuns region), and a Green Municipality Pact (GMP) (in Paragominas). Between sites, climate and colonisation histories vary, yet all demonstrate that farmers experience the burden of escaped fire, attesting to the failure of fire management policies and suggesting that fire (as currently managed) threatens forest conservation goals. Restrictive fire management policies do not replace the necessity of fire‐based agriculture and rather serve to disempower swidden farmers by making burning increasingly illicit. We show that awareness of fire‐free alternatives exists, yet experience is limited and constraints are considerable. We argue that marginalising fire use in the context of forest conservation initiatives contributes to a legacy of failed interventions and jeopardises partnerships between communities and conservation practitioners. Finally, we suggest that given the absence of imminent and viable fire‐free alternatives, particularly in sites where swidden and conservation collide, a new model of fire warrants experimentation.
  • Article
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    Coastal vegetated wetlands such as mangrove forests provide multiple ecosystem services, though are potentially threatened by contemporary accelerated sea level rise (SLR), in addition to other immediate threats such as agriculture and coastal development. Several studies have revealed that mangroves are able to adapt to, and keep pace with local relative SLR through vertical surface elevation change (SEC), however data are lacking, with often only surface accretion rate (SAR) data available. We systematically review published studies of SEC and SAR from globally distributed monitoring sites using meta-analysis, and compare them with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) SLR scenarios. Hydro-geomorphic setting plays an important role, with basin mangroves potentially less vulnerable to SLR through land building processes. We find that SAR in both basin and fringe mangroves can cope with low SLR scenario (RCP 2.6) throughout the 100 years projection period. However, SAR can only keep pace with high SLR scenario (RCP 8.5) up to year 2070 and 2055 in basin and fringe mangrove settings respectively. These were associated with potential sediment accumulation of 41 cm and 29 cm respectively from the baseline. Mangrove degradation promoted lowering trends of SEC, while mangrove management such as rehabilitation practice stimulated positive trends of SEC. Mangrove ecosystems may be vulnerable to contemporary SLR in small island locations such as the Caribbean, East Africa and parts of the Indo-Pacific that are dominated by fringe mangroves and where SEC cannot keep pace with both low and high IPCC AR5 SLR scenarios. A global expansion of current mangrove surface elevation monitoring effort is urgently needed in order to better assess the vulnerability of mangroves, and the factors affecting their resiliency in the face of rising sea levels.
  • Article
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    This study develops a modelling framework for utilizing very high-resolution (VHR) aerial imagery for monitoring stocks of above-ground biomass (AGB) in a tropical forest in Southeast Asia. Three different texture-based methods (grey level co-occurrence metric (GLCM), Gabor wavelets and Fourier-based textural ordination (FOTO)) were used in conjunction with two different machine learning (ML)-based regression techniques (support vector regression (SVR) and random forest (RF) regression). These methods were implemented on both 50-cm resolution Digital Globe data extracted from Google Earth™ (GE) and 8-cm commercially obtained VHR imagery. This study further examines the role of forest biophysical parameters, such as ground-measured canopy cover and vertical canopy height, in explaining AGB distribution. Three models were developed using: (i) horizontal canopy variables (i.e., canopy cover and texture variables) plus vertical canopy height; (ii) horizontal variables only; and (iii) texture variables only. AGB was variable across the site, ranging from 51.02 Mg/ha to 356.34 Mg/ha. GE-based AGB estimates were OPEN ACCESS Remote Sens. 2015, 7 5058 comparable to those derived from commercial aerial imagery. The findings demonstrate that novel use of this array of texture-based techniques with GE imagery can help promote the wider use of freely available imagery for low-cost, fine-resolution monitoring of forests parameters at the landscape scale.
  • Article
    Mangrove forests provide important ecosystem services, including protecting coastlines from the impacts of extreme weather events, such as storm surge and erosion. Unfortunately, these same extreme weather events also degrade mangrove forests. Currently, there are no comprehensive financial mechanisms in place to ensure that mangroves are rehabilitated following storm damage. This article explores whether there is a legal basis for applying insurance to mangrove forests, to ensure that mangroves are rehabilitated to retain their protective functions. This article uses Australian insurance law as a case study, and first analyses whether the legal principles underpinning insurance can be extended to mangrove forests, and then addresses the practical difficulties involved in developing an insurance product of this type. This article concludes that mangrove insurance is technically feasible, and provides a series of recommendations for policy-makers and the insurance industry.
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    This chapter reviews the literature to understand the significance of making decisions about the prevention and/or control of invasive alien species (IAS) that ignore impacts on ecosystem services. It reports damage costs associated with IAS in monetary terms. The costs presented for various provisioning, regulating, and cultural services may be roughly comparable since most of the literature mostly clusters around the early 2000s. Whether damage costs of any magnitude will change the way IAS is managed will naturally depend on the benefits of the activities that lead to the introduction and spread of each species. Identifying potential damage costs and estimating their magnitude is a positive first step towards properly accounting for the full impact of IAS.
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    REDD+ is an important development in environmental and social justice policy instruments. However, its success depends on a network of complex contingencies, and the achievement of difficult governance transformations in countries that are under severe economic pressure. It ought be obvious that there are significant risks associated with this endeavour, but overt risk management, using standard approaches, is not evident. This paper highlights some of the many risks that the governance of REDD+ (in common with most environmental policy innovations) needs to pay attention to in order to avoid policy failure. There are eight distinct elements that have to work for the REDD+ program to achieve its public policy goals, and each of these carries its own risk. These are: securitisation of carbon sequestration; protection for complex non-carbon values, ensuring the integrity of the supply of credit; multi-level administration and aggregation of tradeable carbon interests; managing the social and economic imbalance of interests; deploying new methods for measurement and securitisation of interests; ensuring a platform of rules, administrative and enforcement systems, teams and intelligence networks; and achieving price and ‘brand’ competitiveness in a crowded carbon offsets marketplace. Although the issues listed in this paper are not comprehensive, they highlight major concerns and support the argument that a comprehensive and systematic approach to policy risk is likely to add value to the REDD+ implementation. The paper suggests that good management practice would separate risk management from policy or instrument development, and embed this aspect of good governance with a sufficient level of authority to ensure that the negative potentials are managed with a degree of vigour consistent with the importance of the issues.
  • Article
    The farm policy debate in the US continues to evolve rapidly as priorities and perceptions change. For some time now risk protection has been the primary rationale used to justify federal farm programs; hence the commonly expressed need for a farm safety net. As the 2008 farm bill neared its expiration and debate began on a new farm bill, direct payments became perceived as the least politically defensible of the existing farm programs, since direct payments provide no risk protection. Thus, it became widely agreed that direct payments would be reduced or eliminated to reach budget reduction targets. Some may argue that policy-makers adopted and maintained crop insurance premium subsidies simply as a mechanism for transferring federal dollars to crop farmers. It is certainly true that if crop insurance policies are priced correctly, premium subsidies effectively transfer income from taxpayers to crop insurance purchasers.
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    In addition to their negative impacts on biodiversity, alien plant species often affect ecosystem processes in ways that degrade ecosystem services for humans, resulting in economic losses. Timely intervention to control the spread of invaders can minimize economic and ecological damages, whereas lapses or delays in funding weed control can be extremely costly in the long run. Using recent decreases in funding for invasive plant management in California as an example, we argue that managers must make a broader case for investing in the control of invasive species to prevent the loss of ecosystem services. In particular, managers need to partner with academic scientists, private landowners, and the public sector to quantify the impact of invasive weeds on service provision, assess where services are most at risk and who benefits from the avoided cost of weed control, and create mechanisms to fund invasive species management through payment for ecosystem services. © 2013 The Author(s) 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: [email protected] /* */
  • Article
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    Payment for ecosystem services (PES) is a market-based approach to environmental management that compensates land stewards for ecosystem conservation and restoration. Because low-income households and communities control much of the ecologically sensitive land in developing countries, they potentially stand to gain from PES, as environmentally responsible stewardship is assigned a value by various actors in society. To date, however, instances of PES benefiting the poor have been limited mainly to specific localities, small-scale projects, and a handful of broader government programs. We analyze the size, characteristics, and trends of PES to evaluate its future potential to benefit low-income land stewards in developing countries. We estimate that by the year 2030, markets for biodiversity conservation could benefit 10–15 million low-income households in developing countries, carbon markets could benefit 25–50 million, markets for watershed protection could benefit 80–100 million, and markets for landscape beauty and recreation could benefit 5–8 million. If payments and markets reach these potentials, they could provide a non-negligible contribution to poverty alleviation at the global level.
  • Article
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    Although conservation efforts have sometimes succeeded in meeting environmental goals at the expense of equity considerations, the changing context of conservation and a growing body of evidence increasingly suggest that equity considerations should be integrated into conservation planning and implementation. However, this approach is often perceived to be at odds with the prevailing focus on economic efficiency that characterizes many payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes. Drawing from examples across the literature, we show how the equity impacts of PES can create positive and negative feedbacks that influence ecological outcomes. We caution against equity-blind PES, which overlooks these relationships as a result of a primary and narrow focus on economic efficiency. We call for further analysis and better engagement between the social and ecological science communities to understand the relationships and trade-offs among efficiency, equity, and ecological outcomes.
  • Article
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    As species adapt to a changing climate, so too must humans adapt to a new conservation landscape. Classical frameworks have distinguished between fine- and coarse-filter conservation strategies, focusing on conserving either the species or the landscapes, respectively, that together define extant biodiversity. Adapting this framework for climate change, conservationists are using fine-filter strategies to assess species vulnerability and prioritize the most vulnerable species for conservation actions. Coarse-filter strategies seek to conserve either key sites as determined by natural elements unaffected by climate change, or sites with low climate velocity that are expected to be refugia for climate-displaced species. Novel approaches combine coarse- and fine-scale approaches—for example, prioritizing species within pretargeted landscapes—and accommodate the difficult reality of multiple interacting stressors. By taking a diversified approach to conservation actions and decisions, conservationists can hedge against uncertainty, take advantage of new methods and information, and tailor actions to the unique needs and limitations of places, thereby ensuring that the biodiversity show will go on.
  • Article
    Marginal land use changes can abruptly result in non-marginal and irreversible changes in ecosystem functioning and the economic values that the ecosystem generates. This challenges the traditional ecosystem services (ESS) mapping approach, which has often made the assumption that ESS can be mapped uniquely to land use and land cover data. Using a functional fragmentation measure, we show how landscape pattern changes might lead to changes in the delivery of ESS. We map changes in ESS of dry calcareous grasslands under different land use change scenarios in a case study region in Switzerland. We selected three ESS known to be related to species diversity including carbon sequestration and pollination as regulating values and recreational experience as cultural value, and compared them to the value of two production services including food and timber production. Results show that the current unceasing fragmentation is particularly critical for the value of ESS provided by species-rich habitats. The article concludes that assessing landscape patterns is key for maintaining valuable ESS in the face of human use and fluctuating environment.
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    A forest carbon (C) offset is a quantifiable unit of C that is commonly developed at the local or regional project scale and is designed to counterbalance anthropogenic C emissions by sequestering C in trees. In cap-and-trade programs, forest offsets have market value if the sequestered C is additional (more than would have occurred in the absence of the project) and permanent (sequestered within the project boundary for a specified period of time). Local management and ecological context determine the rate of C sequestration, risk of loss, and hence the market value. An understanding of global C dynamics can inform policy but may not be able to effectively price an ecosystem service, such as C sequestration. Appropriate pricing requires the assistance of ecologists to assess C stock abundance and stability over spatial and temporal scales appropriate for the regional market. We use the risk that sequestered C will be emitted as a result of wildfire (reversal risk) to show how ecological context can influence market valuation in offset programs.
  • Article
    Extreme climatic events and land-use change are known to influence strongly the current carbon cycle of Amazonia, and have the potential to cause significant global climate impacts. This review intends to evaluate the effects of both climate and anthropogenic perturbations on the carbon balance of the Brazilian Amazon and to understand how they interact with each other. By analysing the outputs of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 4 (AR4) model ensemble, we demonstrate that Amazonian temperatures and water stress are both likely to increase over the 21st Century. Curbing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by 62% in 2010 relative to the 1990s mean decreased the Brazilian Amazon's deforestation contribution to global land use carbon emissions from 17% in the 1990s and early 2000s to 9% by 2010. Carbon sources in Amazonia are likely to be dominated by climatic impacts allied with forest fires (48.3% relative contribution) during extreme droughts. The current net carbon sink (net biome productivity, NBP) of +0.16 (ranging from +0.11 to +0.21) Pg C year−1 in the Brazilian Amazon, equivalent to 13.3% of global carbon emissions from land-use change for 2008, can be negated or reversed during drought years [NBP = −0.06 (−0.31 to +0.01) Pg C year−1]. Therefore, reducing forest fires, in addition to reducing deforestation, would be an important measure for minimizing future emissions. Conversely, doubling the current area of secondary forests and avoiding additional removal of primary forests would help the Amazonian gross forest sink to offset approximately 42% of global land-use change emissions. We conclude that a few strategic environmental policy measures are likely to strengthen the Amazonian net carbon sink with global implications. Moreover, these actions could increase the resilience of the net carbon sink to future increases in drought frequency.
  • Article
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    Ecosystem Services (ES) are an established conceptual framework for attributing value to the benefits that nature provides to humans. As the promise of robust ES-driven management is put to the test, shortcomings in our ability to accurately measure, map, and value ES have surfaced. On the research side, mainstream methods for ES assessment still fall short of addressing the complex, multi-scale biophysical and socioeconomic dynamics inherent in ES provision, flow, and use. On the practitioner side, application of methods remains onerous due to data and model parameterization requirements. Further, it is increasingly clear that the dominant "one model fits all" paradigm is often ill-suited to address the diversity of real-world management situations that exist across the broad spectrum of coupled human-natural systems. This article introduces an integrated ES modeling methodology, named ARIES (ARtificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services), which aims to introduce improvements on these fronts. To improve conceptual detail and representation of ES dynamics, it adopts a uniform conceptualization of ES that gives equal emphasis to their production, flow and use by society, while keeping model complexity low enough to enable rapid and inexpensive assessment in many contexts and for multiple services. To improve fit to diverse application contexts, the methodology is assisted by model integration technologies that allow assembly of customized models from a growing model base. By using computer learning and reasoning, model structure may be specialized for each application context without requiring costly expertise. In this article we discuss the founding principles of ARIES - both its innovative aspects for ES science and as an example of a new strategy to support more accurate decision making in diverse application contexts.
  • Article
    [Extract] Currently both federal and state governments are refusing their responsibilities to protect the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) through inaction on climate change based on the misuse of the available science while at the same time port authorities, mining companies and governments are evading their responsibilities to manage port developments adequately by using "offsets" (where the funds go to farmers to improve management practices in the GBR catchment). The result of this evasion of responsibility means that the sole responsibility to manage the GBR has been passed on to farmers! So of the three big threats to the GBR – climate change, agricultural pollution and coastal development pollution/degradation – only agricultural pollution is being managed to some extent based on good science.
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    In this commentary we critically discuss the suitability of payments for ecosystem services and the most important challenges they face. While such instruments can play a role in improving environmental governance, we argue that over-reliance on payments as win-win solutions might lead to ineffective outcomes, similar to earlier experience with integrated conservation and development projects. Our objective is to raise awareness, particularly among policy makers and practitioners, about the limitations of such instruments and to encourage a dialogue about the policy contexts in which they might be appropriate.
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    The worse air pollution due to haze from fires occurred in the Southeast Asia during the strongest 1997-1998 El Nino event in the last century. The dense haze came from forest and peat fires mainly occurred in Indonesia. Recent fires in Indonesia have become an annual phenomenon nevertheless rapid deforestation rate showed declined trend. In addition, Indonesia formally admitted very large amount of C0 2 emission mostly from fires and deforestation (about 3.01 billion tonnes after the United States). Indonesia is now requested to reduce air pollution due to haze and carbon emissions at the same time. For an execution of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus) in Indonesia, it is also essential to develop an effective firefighting strategy. In this paper, recent hotspot data captured by NASA MODIS from 2002 to 2010 was analyzed to grasp the recent fire trend in the whole Indonesia. As Indonesia is not so small country, various grid sizes utilizing latitude and longitude angles from I xI to 0.0 I xO.O I degrees were used for various analysis purposes. Analysis results using one degree grids clearly showed the highest hotspot density areas in Indonesia located in Kalimantan and Sumatra Islands. Among them, One of the Mega Rice Project (MRP) regions (~rid center: south latitude 3°, east longitude 114°) showed extremely high hotspot density, 0.188 hotspots/km /year. Two regions in Riau and South Sumatra of Sumatra Island followed the MRP area and their hotspot densities were 0.111 and 0.106 hotspots/km 2 /year, respectively. Other high hotspot density regions were mostly found in deforested area on peat. Analysis results on seasonality of peat fire showed strong correlation with El Nino event. Finally, the authors are now proposing an effective fire forecast method based on recent fire trend in Indonesia.
  • Article
    Cumulative impact maps are used to identify the spatial distribution of multiple human impacts to species and ecosystems. Impacts can be caused by local stressors which can be managed, such as eutrophication, and by global stressors that cannot be managed, such as climate change. Cumulative impact maps typically assume that there are no interactive effects between stressors on biodiversity. However, the benefits of managing the ecosystem are affected by interactions between stressors. Our aim was to determine whether the assumption of no interactions in impact maps leads to incorrect identification of sites for management. General, Australasia. We used the additive effects model to incorporate the effects of interactions into an interactive impact map. Seagrass meadows in Australasia threatened by a local stressor, nutrient inputs, and a global stressor, warming, were used as a case study. The reduction in the impact index was quantified for reductions in the nutrient stressor. We examined the outcomes for three scenarios: no interactions, antagonistic interactions or synergistic interactions. Cumulative impact maps imply that reducing a local stressor will give equivalent reductions in the impact index everywhere, regardless of spatial variability in a global stressor. We show that reductions in the impact index were greatest in refuges from warming if there was an antagonistic interaction between stressors, and greatest in areas of high warming stress if there was a synergistic interaction. Reducing the nutrient stressor in refuges from warming always reduced the impact index, regardless of the interaction. Interactions between local and global stressors should be considered when using cumulative impact maps to identify sites where management of a local stressor will provide the greatest impact reduction. If the interaction type is unknown, impact maps can be used to identify refuges from global stressors, as sites for management.
  • Article
    Payments for ecosystem services (PES) received a lot of academic attention in the past years. However, the concept remains loose and many different conservation approaches are published under the ‘PES label’. We reviewed 457 articles obtained in a structured literature search in order to present an overview of the PES literature. This paper (1) illustrates the different analytical perspectives on PES concepts and types, (2) shows the geographic focus of PES research and (3) identifies the major foci of the overall PES research. The paper finally (4) identifies differences and similarities in conservation programs and main research topics between developing and industrialized countries to (5) disclose potentials for research synergies, should research experiences in the two types of countries be exchanged more deliberately. We demonstrate that only few publications describe Coasean PES approaches. The majority of research refers to national governmental payment programs. The overall design of national PES programs in Latin America resembles the design of those in the US and EU considerably. Programs in the US and EU have been in place longer than most of the frequently published Latin American schemes. However the former are hardly considered in the international PES literature as research is usually published under different terminologies.
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    This article investigates whether the European Union-Mauritania fisheries agreement, which allocates part of the Europe's financial contribution to the conservation of marine ecosystems located within the Banc d’Arguin National Park, can be regarded as a payment for ecosystem service. A framework for qualification as such payment scheme was established based on an extensive literature review. The criteria identified for the qualification as a payment to ecosystem service pertain to: (1) the definition of the ecosystem service(s) involved; (2) the mechanism involved by the payment; and (3) the nature of the transaction. Interviews with local beneficiaries and subsequent data analysis led to the conclusion that this mechanism could be regarded as a payment to ecosystem service and so, through the European Union-Mauritania Fisheries agreement, the European Union were investing to protect local fish resources that could be exploited by its fishing fleet. This agreement, involving the first International Payment to Ecosystem Service of this kind, marks an important step towards better consideration of marine conservation in international public policy and foreign fishing policy in particular. However, this payment is small when compared to revenues generated through the exploitation of developing countries’ fishing grounds by fishing countries. Nevertheless it opens the door for more detailed applications of payment to ecosystem service schemes to other ecosystems contexts, and can provide a useful alternative source of financing of marine biodiversity conservation.
  • Article
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    We explore the potential for payments for ecosystem services (PES) to reconcile conservation and development goals, using a case study of an experimental PES intervention around the Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda. The scheme involves the purchase of biodiversity conservation services from local communities in four selected locations. Although a portion of the payment is awarded at the household level, it is the collective action of the community that determines the level of the payment. Contracts are negotiated annually and include performance indicators within each participating community. We examine the ability of PES to achieve conservation and development objectives, through three sub-questions: Is the PES scheme effective? Is it legitimate and fair? Is it equitable? Our findings indicate that the relationship between these evaluation criteria is complex, with both trade-offs and synergies. In this case study the effectiveness of PES is dependent on the equitable distribution of the payment, participants’ belief and acceptance of the service being paid for, institutional histories that aid in the establishment of legitimacy and fairness, and the complementary nature of PES to more conventional enforcement methods.
  • Article
    Concern is growing about the potential effects of interacting multiple stressors, especially as the global climate changes. We provide a comprehensive review of multiple stressor interactions in coral reef ecosystems, which are widely considered to be one of the most sensitive ecosystems to global change. First, we synthesized coral reef studies that examined interactions of two or more stressors, highlighting stressor interactions (where one stressor directly influences another) and potentially synergistic effects on response variables (where two stressors interact to produce an effect that is greater than purely additive). For stressor-stressor interactions, we found studies that examined at least 2 of the 13 stressors of interest. Applying network analysis to analyze relationships between stressors, we found that pathogens were exacerbated by more co-stressors than any other stressor, with ~78% of studies reporting an enhancing effect by another stressor. Sedimentation, storms, and water temperature directly affected the largest number of other stressors. Pathogens, nutrients, and crown-of-thorns starfish were the most-influenced stressors. We found 187 studies that examined the effects of two or more stressors on a third dependent variable. The interaction of irradiance and temperature on corals has been the subject of more research (62 studies, 33% of the total) than any other combination of stressors, with many studies reporting a synergistic effect on coral symbiont photosynthetic performance (n=19). Second, we performed a quantitative meta-analysis of existing literature on this most-studied interaction (irradiance and temperature). We found that the mean effect size of combined treatments was statistically indistinguishable from a purely additive interaction, although it should be noted that the sample size was relatively small (n=26). Overall, although in aggregate a large body of literature examines stressor effects on coral reefs and coral organisms, considerable gaps remain for numerous stressor interactions and effects, and insufficient quantitative evidence exists to suggest that the prevailing type of stressor interaction is synergistic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  • Article
    A number of international donors, national governments and project proponents have begun to lay the groundwork for REDD+, but tenure insecurity – including the potential risks of land grabbing by outsiders and loss of local user rights to forests and forest land – is one of the main reasons that many indigenous and other local peoples have publicly opposed it. Under what conditions is REDD+ a threat to local rights, and under what conditions does it present an opportunity? This article explores these issues based on available data from a global comparative study on REDD+, led by the Center for International Forestry Research, which is studying national policies and processes in 12 countries and 23 REDD+ projects in 6 countries. The article analyses how tenure concerns are being addressed at both national and project level in emerging REDD+ programs. The findings suggest that in most cases REDD+ has clearly provided some new opportunities for securing local tenure rights, but that piecemeal interventions by project proponents at the local level are insufficient in the absence of broader, national programs for land tenure reform. The potential for substantial changes in the status quo appear unlikely, though Brazil – the only one with such a national land tenure reform program – offers useful insights. Land tenure reform – the recognition of customary rights in particular – and a serious commitment to REDD+ both challenge the deep-rooted economic and political interests of ‘business as usual’.
  • Article
    Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is being proclaimed as “a new direction in forest conservation” (Anglesen, 2009: 125). This financial incentives-based climate change mitigation strategy proposed by the UNEP, World Bank, GEF and environmental NGOs seeks to integrate forests into carbon sequestration schemes. Its proponents view REDD+ as part of an adaptive strategy to counter the effects of global climate change. This paper combines the theoretical approaches of market environmentalism and environmental narratives to examine the politics of environmental knowledge that are redefining socio-nature relations in the Rufiji Delta, Tanzania to make mangrove forests amenable to markets. Through a case study of a “REDD-readiness” climate change mitigation and adaptation project, we demonstrate how a shift in resource control and management from local to global actors builds upon narratives of environmental change (forest loss) that have little factual basis in environmental histories. We argue that the proponents of REDD+ (Tanzanian state, aid donors, environmental NGOs) underestimate the agency of forest-reliant communities who have played a major role in the making of the delta landscape and who will certainly resist the injustices they are facing as a result of this shift from community-based resource management to fortress conservation.
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    Recently, the inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef have declined rapidly because of deteriorating water quality. Increased catchment runoff is one potential culprit. The impacts of land-use on coral growth and reef health however are largely circumstantial due to limited long-term data on water quality and reef health. Here we use a 60 year coral core record to show that phosphorus contained in the skeletons (P/Ca) of long-lived, near-shore Porites corals on the Great Barrier Reef correlates with annual records of fertiliser application and particulate phosphorus loads in the adjacent catchment. Skeletal P/Ca also correlates with Ba/Ca, a proxy for fluvial sediment loading, again linking near-shore phosphorus records with river runoff. Coral core records suggest that phosphorus levels increased 8 fold between 1949 and 2008 with the greatest levels coinciding with periods of high fertiliser-phosphorus use. Periods of high P/Ca correspond with intense agricultural activity and increased fertiliser application in the river catchment following agricultural expansion and replanting after cyclone damage. Our results demonstrate how coral P/Ca records can be used to assess terrestrial nutrient loading of vulnerable near-shore reefs.
  • Article
    Sites that are important for biodiversity conservation can also provide significant benefits (i.e. ecosystem services) to people. Decision-makers need to know how change to a site, whether development or restoration, would affect the delivery of services and the distribution of any benefits among stakeholders. However, there are relatively few empirical studies that present this information. One reason is the lack of appropriate methods and tools for ecosystem service assessment that do not require substantial resources or specialist technical knowledge, or rely heavily upon existing data. Here we address this gap by describing the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA). It guides local non-specialists through a selection of relatively accessible methods for identifying which ecosystem services may be important at a site, and for evaluating the magnitude of benefits that people obtain from them currently, compared with those expected under alternative land-uses. The toolkit recommends use of existing data where appropriate and places emphasis on enabling users to collect new field data at relatively low cost and effort. By using TESSA, the users could also gain valuable information about the alternative land-uses; and data collected in the field could be incorporated into regular monitoring programmes.
  • Article
    Schemes that reward developing countries for mitigating greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions through forest preservation and restoration are becoming more common. However, efforts to reduce GHG emissions must also consider food production. This creates an apparent conflict, given that agricultural production – a key driver of GHG emissions as a consequence of forest clearance – will increase as human populations continue to grow. We propose that a mosaic of small patches of forest mixed with cropland enables sustainable intensification of agriculture by minimizing soil degradation. Economic analyses of this mixed land-use concept suggest an improvement of long-term economic performance of 19–25% relative to conventional industrial agriculture with large-scale monocropping. Adopting this approach requires farm management plans, landscape zoning, and new instruments to finance sustainable agriculture. We conclude that climate policy and food production can be reconciled through an integrative landscape concept that combines this more sustainable method of agricultural intensification with the reforestation of abandoned lands. Read More: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/110203
  • Article
    While preserving water quality by contracting with farmers has been examined previously, we analyze these arrangements from a different perspective. This study uses a transaction cost framework, in conjunction with detailed case studies of two water quality payment schemes, to examine factors that increase and decrease transaction costs in order to improve policy choice as well as policy design and implementation. In both the Munich and New York City cases, agreements with farmers to change land management practices resolved the water quality problems. In Munich, factors including lack of rural/urban antipathy, homogeneous land use, utilization of well-developed organic standards, and strong demand for organic products decreased transaction costs. Using existing organic institutions addressed a range of environmental issues simultaneously. Factors that decreased transaction costs in both cases included: highly sensitive land was purchased outright and the existence of one large “buyerâ€. Adequate lead time and flexibility of water quality regulations allowed negotiation and development of the watershed programs. Tourism and eco-labels allow urban residents to become aware of the agricultural production practices that affect their water supply. We conclude with recommendations based on the experiences of these cities, both of which have been proposed as models for other schemes.
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    Ocean acidification has emerged over the last two decades as one of the largest threats to marine organisms and ecosystems. However, most research efforts on ocean acidification have so far neglected management and related policy issues to focus instead on understanding its ecological and biogeochemical implications. This shortfall is addressed here with a systematic, international and critical review of management and policy options. In particular, we investigate the assumption that fighting acidification is mainly, but not only, about reducing CO2 emissions, and explore the leeway that this emerging problem may open in old environmental issues. We review nine types of management responses, initially grouped under four categories: preventing ocean acidification; strengthening ecosystem resilience; adapting human activities; and repairing damages. Connecting and comparing options leads to classifying them, in a qualitative way, according to their potential and feasibility. While reducing CO2 emissions is confirmed as the key action that must be taken against acidification, some of the other options appear to have the potential to buy time, e.g. by relieving the pressure of other stressors, and help marine life face unavoidable acidification. Although the existing legal basis to take action shows few gaps, policy challenges are significant: tackling them will mean succeeding in various areas of environmental management where we failed to a large extent so far.
  • Article
    The originality of the REDD proposal is its incentives-based mechanism designed to reward the governments of developing countries for their performance in reducing deforestation as measured against a baseline. This mechanism is founded on the hypothesis that developing countries ‘pay’ an opportunity cost to conserve their forests and would prefer other choices and convert their wooden lands to other uses. The basic idea is, therefore, to pay rents to these countries to compensate for the anticipated foregone revenues. The reference to the theory of incentives (in its principal–agent version) is implicit but clear. In this REDD-related framework, the Government is taken as any economic agent who behaves rationally i.e. taking decisions after comparing the relative prices associated to various alternatives, then deciding to take action and implementing effective measures to tackle deforestation and shift the nation-wide development path.
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    Time lags can be found throughout the invasion process, including in the arrival, establishment, and impacts of invaders. While we often lack the information necessary to generate quantitative expectations of invader performance, some types of lags are not surprising. For example, populations often grow exponentially in the early phases of invasion, and this will give rise to an inherent lag. More broadly, early rates of anthropogenic invasion were much slower than what we are now witnessing, but as the vectors of invasion have also increased dramatically over time, this early lag is not unexpected. Many other lags, however, appear dramatically prolonged, and can come to an end with changes to the invader or its environment. For example, exotics can exist in relatively low numbers for decades before exploding, or invaders can become more aggressive over time and increase their impacts on native species. Invasion-related lags are critical for our efforts to manage invaders, as they may lead us to make inaccurate assessments of the risks posed by invaders as well as miss critical windows for action. Recognition of the phenomenon of long lags before sudden changes in invader dynamics also suggests that we adopt a strict precautionary principle: we should assume that any invader has the potential for undesirable effects and that long periods of seemingly consistent behaviour can be poor predictors of what invaders will do in the future.
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    Ecotechnology - the use of natural ecosystems to solve environmental problems - should be a part of efforts to shrink the zone of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.
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    Multiple activities affect the marine environment in concert, yet current management primarily considers activities in isolation. A shift towards a more comprehensive management of these activities, as with recent emphasis on ecosystem-based approaches to management, requires a means for evaluating their interactive and cumulative impacts. Here we develop a framework for this evaluation, focusing on five core concepts: (1) activities have interactive and cumulative impacts, (2) management decisions require consideration of, and tradeoffs among, all ecosystem services, (3) not all stressors are equal or have impacts that increase linearly, (4) management must account for the different scales of activities and impacts, and (5) some externalities cannot be controlled locally but must be accounted for in marine spatial planning. Comprehensive ocean zoning provides a powerful tool with which these key concepts are collectively addressed.
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    This report is a project of Earth Economics. The authors are responsible for the content of this report. Funding
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    Concepts and theory for the design and application of terrestrial reserves is based on our understanding of environmental, ecological, and evolutionary processes re- sponsible for biological diversity and sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems and how hu- mans have influenced these processes. How well this terrestrial-based theory can be applied toward the design and application of reserves in the coastal marine environment depends, in part, on the degree of similarity between these systems. Several marked differences in ecological and evolutionary processes exist between marine and terrestrial ecosystems as ramifications of fundamental differences in their physical environments (i.e., the relative prevalence of air and water) and contemporary patterns of human impacts. Most notably, the great extent and rate of dispersal of nutrients, materials, holoplanktonic organisms, and reproductive propagules of benthic organisms expand scales of connectivity among near- shore communities and ecosystems. Consequently, the ''openness'' of marine populations, communities, and ecosystems probably has marked influences on their spatial, genetic, and trophic structures and dynamics in ways experienced by only some terrestrial species. Such differences appear to be particularly significant for the kinds of organisms most exploited and targeted for protection in coastal marine ecosystems (fishes and macroinvertebrates). These and other differences imply some unique design criteria and application of reserves in the marine environment. In explaining the implications of these differences for marine reserve design and application, we identify many of the environmental and ecological processes and design criteria necessary for consideration in the development of the ana- lytical approaches developed elsewhere in this Special Issue.
  • Article
    We used field and laboratory measurements, geographic information systems, and simulation modeling to investigate the potential effects of accelerated sea-level rise on tidal marsh area and delivery of ecosystem services along the Georgia coast. Model simulations using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mean and maximum estimates of sea-level rise for the year 2100 suggest that salt marshes will decline in area by 20% and 45%, respectively. The area of tidal freshwater marshes will increase by 2% under the IPCC mean scenario, but will decline by 39% under the maximum scenario. Delivery of ecosystem services associated with productivity (macrophyte biomass) and waste treatment ( nitrogen accumulation in soil, potential denitrification) will also decline. Our findings suggest that tidal marshes at the lower and upper salinity ranges, and their attendant delivery of ecosystem services, will be most affected by accelerated sea-level rise, unless geomorphic conditions (ie gradual increase in elevation) enable tidal freshwater marshes to migrate inland, or vertical accretion of salt marshes to increase, to compensate for accelerated sea-level rise.
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    Global stressors, including climate change, are a major threat to ecosystems, but they cannot be halted by local actions. Ecosystem management is thus attempting to compensate for the impacts of global stressors by reducing local stressors, such as overfishing. This approach assumes that stressors interact additively or synergistically, whereby the combined effect of two stressors is at least the sum of their isolated effects. It is not clear, however, how management should proceed for antagonistic interactions among stressors, where multiple stressors do not have an additive or greater impact. Research to date has focussed on identifying synergisms among stressors, but antagonisms may be just as common. We examined the effectiveness of management when faced with different types of interactions in two systems - seagrass and fish communities - where the global stressor was climate change but the local stressors were different. When there were synergisms, mitigating local stressors delivered greater gains, whereas when there were antagonisms, management of local stressors was ineffective or even degraded ecosystems. These results suggest that reducing a local stressor can compensate for climate change impacts if there is a synergistic interaction. Conversely, if there is an antagonistic interaction, management of local stressors will have the greatest benefits in areas of refuge from climate change. A balanced research agenda, investigating both antagonistic and synergistic interaction types, is needed to inform management priorities.
  • Article
    Mismatches between the spatial scales of human decision-making and natural processes contribute to environmental problems such as global warming and biodiversity losses. People damage the environment through local activities like clearing land or burning fossil fuels, but the damages only become manifest at larger regional or global scales where no one pays for them. Payments for ecological services like carbon sequestration can correct for these damages caused by scale mismatches. This paper presents a spatially explicit land-use model to investigate the consequences of scale mismatches for pollination and carbon storage services and examine the effect of payment for only carbon storage services. The model integrates processes in multiple spatial scales ranging from the parcel level used by landowners’ decision about deforestation, to the larger scale used by animals to pollinate plants, and finally to the global scale where carbon storage services are supplied. We show that payment for carbon storage services can become an effective mechanism to protect forests at the same time that it creates inequities among landowners in income level.These findings suggest that market-based approaches that focus on conservation of a single ecosystem service may reproduce unequal power relations among landowners.
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    We review the evidence of regime shifts in terrestrial and aquatic environments in relation to resilience of complex adaptive ecosystems and the functional roles of biological diversity in this context. The evidence reveals that the likelihood of regime shifts may increase when humans reduce resilience by such actions as removing response diversity, removing whole functional groups of species, or removing whole trophic levels; impacting on ecosystems via emissions of waste and pollutants and climate change; and altering the magnitude, frequency, and duration of disturbance regimes. The combined and often synergistic effects of those pressures can make ecosystems more vulnerable to changes that previously could be absorbed. As a consequence, ecosystems may suddenly shift from desired to less desired states in their capacity to generate ecosystem services. Active adaptive management and governance of resilience will be required to sustain desired ecosystem states and transform degraded ecosystems into fundamentally new and more desirable configurations.
  • Article
    Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity.
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    Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and is expected to compromise the structure and function of coral reefs within this century. Research into the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs has focused primarily on measuring and predicting changes in seawater carbon (C) chemistry and the biological and geochemical responses of reef organisms to such changes. To date, few ocean acidification studies have been designed to address conservation planning and management priorities. Here, we discuss how existing marine protected area design principles developed to address coral bleaching may be modified to address ocean acidification. We also identify five research priorities needed to incorporate ocean acidification into conservation planning and management: (1) establishing an ocean C chemistry baseline, (2) establishing ecological baselines, (3) determining species/habitat/community sensitivity to ocean acidification, (4) projecting changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, and (5) identifying potentially synergistic effects of multiple stressors.
  • Article
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    With increasing pressure placed on natural systems by growing human populations, both scientists and resource managers need a better understanding of the relationships between cumulative stress from human activities and valued ecosystem services. Societies often seek to mitigate threats to these services through large-scale, costly restoration projects, such as the over one billion dollar Great Lakes Restoration Initiative currently underway. To help inform these efforts, we merged high-resolution spatial analyses of environmental stressors with mapping of ecosystem services for all five Great Lakes. Cumulative ecosystem stress is highest in near-shore habitats, but also extends offshore in Lakes Erie, Ontario, and Michigan. Variation in cumulative stress is driven largely by spatial concordance among multiple stressors, indicating the importance of considering all stressors when planning restoration activities. In addition, highly stressed areas reflect numerous different combinations of stressors rather than a single suite of problems, suggesting that a detailed understanding of the stressors needing alleviation could improve restoration planning. We also find that many important areas for fisheries and recreation are subject to high stress, indicating that ecosystem degradation could be threatening key services. Current restoration efforts have targeted high-stress sites almost exclusively, but generally without knowledge of the full range of stressors affecting these locations or differences among sites in service provisioning. Our results demonstrate that joint spatial analysis of stressors and ecosystem services can provide a critical foundation for maximizing social and ecological benefits from restoration investments.
  • Article
    Over the past few centuries, 25% of the deltaic wetlands associated with the Mississippi Delta have been lost to the ocean1. Plans to protect and restore the coast call for diversions of the Mississippi River, and its associated sediment, to sustain and build new land2, 3. However, the sediment load of the Mississippi River has been reduced by 50% through dam construction in the Mississippi Basin, which could affect the effectiveness of diversion plans4, 5, 6. Here we calculate the amount of sediment stored on the delta plain for the past 12,000 years, and find that mean storage rates necessary to construct the flood plain and delta over this period exceed modern Mississippi River sediment loads. We estimate that, in the absence of sediment input, an additional 10,000–13,500 km2 will be submerged by the year 2100 owing to subsidence and sea-level rise. Sustaining existing delta surface area would require 18–24 billion tons of sediment, which is significantly more than can be drawn from the Mississippi River in its current state. We conclude that significant drowning is inevitable, even if sediment loads are restored, because sea level is now rising at least three times faster than during delta-plain construction.