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Ecosystem services and funding

It is well known that protected areas provide multiple benefits to society; however, funding to maintain ecosystem services is increasingly limited and irregular over time, preventing long-term planning. To this end, the contribution of private capital, in addition to public funds, which are often poorly targeted to the real needs of the entities, emerges as fundamental.

The regional Biodiversity and Climate (BioClima) initiative, developed by Etifor and promoted by the Lombardy Region within the framework of the LIFE IP Gestire 2020 project, promotes investments for the conservation of biodiversity and adaptation to climate change by the managing bodies of regional forests and protected areas. 

The initiative tests a public-private mechanism with the involvement of private companies and organisations through the economic valorisation of the ecosystem services generated by the regional protected forest areas. This mechanism makes it possible to involve and empower the private sector on these issues, to multiply the available public funds and to amplify the media and communication capacity on the benefits and impacts of the projects financed.

As of December 2022, the results achieved were:

  • 17 projects supported by the technical assistance service at the application stage;
  • 12 projects financed by the call for a total of 5.6 million euros, of which 3.5 million covered by regional contribution, 700,000 euros of co-financing from the proposing bodies and 1.5 million euros of private co-financing from the economic valorisation of ecosystem services;
  • Of this 1.5 million, 580,000 euros came from 54 private companies and organizations, raised as of December 2022 through the WOWnature portal.
  • 128 press releases on the BioClima initiative underline the media and communication potential of the initiative.

In brief, the fund has three components:

  1. The opening of a call for applications by the Lombardy Region, to which the managing bodies of the protected forest areas were able to apply to carry out projects for biodiversity conservation, adaptation to climate change and valorisation of ecosystem services; the requirements of the call include private co-financing obtained through activities for the valorisation of ecosystem services for at least 30% of the total project cost.
  2. The activation of a technical assistance service financed by Fondazione Cariplo and entrusted to Etifor to support managing bodies in applying for and finding private co-financing through the dedicated WOWnature® portal.
  3. The economic valorisation of the ecosystem services generated by the projects: the positive impacts of the projects are measured and verified through a certification system (e.g. the FSC® Procedure on Ecosystem Services) and can be attributed to the private companies and organisations co-financing the projects.

The fund was launched on a pilot basis in 2022 with resources and a two-year programme vision. Should the model prove successful and famous, it can be replicated at a regional level and possibly even scaled up to a supra-regional level or replicated in other contexts.

Our team is available to develop innovative mechanisms such as BioClima for managing protected areas. Find out more.

Our team is available to develop innovative mechanisms such as BioClima for managing protected areas. Find out more.