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Payment for ecosystem services (PES) – PES pilot research projects (2012-13) - JBA Consulting - NE0138

The overall aim of this research is to evaluate the feasibility of delivering a practical PES scheme focused on improvements to key ecosystem services.
The Canal & River Trust is one of the UK’s newest charities, created in July 2012 as the successor to British Waterways, and is responsible for the management of 2,000 miles of inland waterways in England and Wales.

Inland waterways provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including recreation, land drainage, flood protection, water supply, waste disposal, energy generation, carbon storage, heritage preservation and nature conservation. These services have been valued at over £500 million per year. Management of the Trust’s waterways is supported by commercial charging for some services, such as boating, angling, water supply and some aspects of water drainage, with further income gained through property assets, external funding and from direct public support and donations. A key strategic priority for the Trust is to ensure the financial security of the waterways by attracting new, sustainable sources of income.

The wider public benefits of enhancing the environmental and biodiversity services provided by the Trust are not fully understood. However, they are likely to be of significant value. The Trust wishes to develop a greater understanding of the scope, scale and distribution of these services, their potential value and the recipients that benefit from their provision. The Government currently supports the provision of these services but significant opportunities exist to deliver improvements.

The Trust wish to develop a pilot PES scheme focused on delivering biodiversity, water quality, water supply and drainage improvements to support its priorities for nature conservation, recreation, climate change and improving the water environment. The PES scheme represents an important opportunity for the Trust to evaluate potential new income streams to support its objectives and will provide valuable information on the value of, and demand for, these ecosystem services, which would assist in the development of future PES schemes.

The Trust proposes to undertake research focused on a range of key PES aspects to support the development of the scheme. This includes improving understanding of the value of these services and the scope and cost of improvements that can be achieved; examining how a PES scheme can deliver multiple ecosystem service improvements; identifying and evaluating beneficiaries and demand; examining payment mechanisms; and evaluating communication methods for raising awareness of the service benefits.

The research builds upon previous work undertaken for Defra by Jacobs (2009-11), which focused on identifying and valuing the ecosystem services of inland waterways, and will provide a key step in the establishment of a PES scheme across the Trust’s network. Given the extensive geographic scale of the waterways, the pilot scheme offers an opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of delivering large-scale ecosystem service improvements, as well as examine communication issues regarding the payment of such services. A key element of the pilot project will also test whether charitable status for public services assists in the establishment and sustainability of the PES approach and will represent a valuable example of a biodiversity-focused PES scheme that can be applied to a wide range of other contexts.
2.2 Objectives

The Canal & Rivers Trust wish to develop a PES scheme focused on delivering biodiversity, water quality and drainage improvements to support its strategic priorities for nature conservation, recreation, and improving the water environment. The overall aim of this research is to evaluate the feasibility of delivering a practical PES scheme focused on improvements to these key ecosystem services.
The Trust has identified a range of research activities required to assist the development of a practical PES scheme. The Trust proposes to undertake research focusing on the following key aspects, which cover elements of both the supply and demand sides of the PES cycle:
The specific objectives of the study are to;
Improve understanding of the current and future value and scope of the biodiversity, water quality and water resources ecosystem services being provided in the pilot PES project area, and the potential scope of improvements to these services that could be achieved;
Examine how such a PES scheme could deliver improvements to multiple ecosystem services;
Identify and evaluate beneficiaries and demand for these ecosystem services;
Evaluate communication methods to raise awareness amongst beneficiaries and other stakeholders of the benefits being delivered and opportunities for service improvements;
Evaluate existing and new potential payment mechanisms. The Trust currently employs a variety of payment methods for some of its services, which will be evaluated to determine their suitability, whilst new PES mechanisms will also be considered;
Given the large geographic scale of the Trust’s waterways and the ecosystem services they provide, the study will examine the feasibility of establishing a PES scheme across the wider canal and river network, including issues surrounding communication of benefits and the geographic separation of services and beneficiaries.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : NE0138 Payments for Ecosystem Services - Canal and River Trust Pilot Study   (12016k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2013

Cost: £27,063
Contractor / Funded Organisations
J B A Consulting
Economic Research              
Ecosystem Service