Payment for Ecosystem Services: Cases from the Experience of U.S. Communities

by Cara Bottorff

Jan 1, 2014
The cases in this report include a wide variety of types of Payment for Ecosystem Services, or "PES" programs. The cases vary by payment type, ecosystem services involved, and the end goal of the purchase. The locales span the United States, from New York to California, and from Georgia to Washington, so they represent a sample of what the United States has tried and offer lessons applicable to future PES programs.

Each case offers unique insights into specific situations, but there are some aspects that are largely seen across the board. PES schemes seem to all benefit greatly from a strong and broad coalition of groups supporting them from the early planning stages through implementation. PES schemes are still relatively new and people can be resistant to new and different things. Having these coalitions helps to gain trust and respect from communities and partners, which increases the chances of program success. Allowing adequate time is another theme that seems to greatly enhance the chance of success. Creating these partnerships and navigating the new terrain of PES schemes takes time and patience. Many of these cases were only successful because the parties involved were willing to put in up to years of time in order to make it happen. As the cases demonstrate, the benefits of these PES schemes make the time and work put in to make them happen more than completely worth it.

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