Improving the link between payments and the provision of ecosystem services in agri-environment schemes
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This paper considers how agri-environment schemes under the Common Agricultural Policy could be adapted to derive a higher return of ecosystem services, by spatially targeting the services most valued by society and providing incentives for cross-boundary management of certain ecosystem services at catchment or wider spatial scales. The paper reviews evidence that spatially targeted, outcome-based payments may be more economically efficient than current approaches, but identifies a number of challenges, including: scientific uncertainty; pricing of ecosystem services; timing of payments; increased risk to land managers; compliance with World Trade Organisation regulations; and barriers to cross-boundary collaboration in the management of ecosystem services at habitat, catchment or landscape scales. Options are reviewed to overcome these challenges, including: the use of pressure–response functions and modelling approaches to establish causal links between management and ecosystem service delivery and reduce the costs of monitoring; non-market valuation techniques to set prices for ecosystem service delivery; insurance schemes; combining funding from public and private Payment for Ecosystem Service schemes; and options to facilitate cross-boundary management of ecosystem services. Using examples from UK peatlands and the Welsh Glastir agri-environment scheme, the paper suggests ways to link payments for management inputs more effectively to the provision of ecosystem services.
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