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Payments for ecosytem services (PES) - PES pilot research projects (2012-13) Visitor giving Project 4 - NE0142

This DEFRA PES Pilot will investigate the potential for Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) to extend visitor payback schemes, and will build on current best practice guidance by Visit England to develop a national toolkit, with an emphasis on using visitor payback to pay for the provision of ecosystem services.
Visitor payback schemes have the potential to help fund the management of the UK’s natural environment, improving infrastructure for visitors to the countryside whilst enhancing the provision of vital ecosystem services for UK society. Although it is well known that to be successful, visitor contributions must result in tangible local benefits, few current schemes incorporate PES (where payments are made voluntarily to secure specific benefits from nature, such as the provision of clean water or climate regulation). Little is known about the potential for PES to increase investment in visitor payback schemes, or the extent to which visitor payback schemes may provide a mechanism to elicit PES from members of the public.

For PES-based visitor payback schemes to operate successfully, there are a number of other research needs, for example: understanding how likely it is that different social groups will make contributions and what sorts of scheme are likely to attract different types of visitor; likely revenues from PES-based versus more traditional forms of visitor payback (e.g. accommodation levies and membership fees); potential benefits and drawbacks of PES-based visitor payback in different institutional contexts e.g. Nature Improvement Areas, AONBs and National Parks; whether such schemes may displace other spending in the local area; and whether smart phone technology might help overcome the prohibitive administration costs of many current schemes, whilst reaching new audiences and helping them learn about ecosystem services.

These questions will be addressed through literature review, analysis of secondary data from existing visitor payback schemes, and semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a cross section of people involved in running visitor payback schemes across England. With investment from Project Maya CIC (in addition to the DEFRA PES Pilot budget), we will develop visitor payback functionality on a number of smart phone apps that currently exist or are under development, to facilitate PES-based visitor payback in the Lake District National Park in collaboration with Nurture Lakeland. Profits from the app will be invested in schemes to enhance the provision of ecosystem services in the National Park, and users will be given the option to invest in a range of specific ecosystem services linked to walking and cycling routes in the app e.g. peatland restoration and creation of a bee/butterfly corridor from the National Park to Exeter. An option to offset carbon emissions from visitors’ journeys to the National Park via peatland restoration or tree planting will be investigated as part of Nuture Lakeland’s existing sustainable transport app, See More Lake District.

This PES Pilot will follow new DEFRA PES Best Practice Guidance for the development of multiple-benefit PES. It builds on an ongoing NERC funded project with South West Water to develop a carbon scheme for peatland restoration in the Lake District National Park and will run alongside research being conducted into visitor payback as part of the follow-on to the National Ecosystem Assessment.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : VGS PES Pilot Final Report Feb14   (6988k)
• OTH - Other : NE0142 - PES helpsheets   (890k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2013

Cost: £31,152
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Birmingham City University
Ecosystem Service