Payments for Ecosystem Services are a promising tool to incentivise the protection and conservation of Ecosystem Services (ES). For this reason, the European Union is investing resources and energy on this topic. How? Within the framework of the LIFE programme a “preparatory call (PREP)” was opened to address specific needs and policy priorities such as the study of payment schemes for ecosystem services (PES) of forests. The call was won by the LIFE ProForPES (Promoting effective forest PES through the EU financial and state aid programs) project, thanks to an European partnership bringing together universities and specialised companies with extensive experience in the field. Besides Etifor, the partners involved in the project are: the University of Padova, the European Forest Institute, Hochschule Für Nachhaltige Entwicklung Ebersw Al, and Universitaet Fuer Bodenkultur Wien.
PES schemes are considered a promising economic instrument for diversifying income to forest owners and rural communities, while supporting biodiversity and climate mitigation, however, benefits from the provision of ecosystem services are rarely rewarded and the application is often limited to small scale, often within pilot-stage initiatives.
Building from the experiences of crucial projects, such as Forest PES Horizon projects (SINCERE, InnoForESt, and Nobel), the LIFE ProForPES project aims at collecting, synthesising, and integrating the knowledge and the know-how already present at EU 27 level on PES and PES-like schemes. Secondly, the project will investigate the readiness and possibilities to integrate PES and PES-like within the EU financial program and the state aid framework through an in-depth institutional analysis of the existing gaps and potentialities present within the two frameworks. The study of the current policy and financial EU programs, flanked by a robust consultation process with the key stakeholders, will provide the knowledge needed to design appropriate policy and business recommendations regarding PES and PES-like schemes integration and potentiality. This will ultimately contribute to sustainable forest ecosystem services provision in Europe and to achieve critical targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
Etifor is among the partners of the project, where its role is threefold:
- First, Etifor will develop a research framework for data collection and interpretation, for selected case studies of PES and PES-like schemes across Europe;
- Second, Etifor will carry out a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each case study. This will provide an overview of the lessons learned, including issues on implementation, best practices, and innovations, when implementing PES and PES-like schemes in Europe;
- Third, Etifor will be responsible for communicating and disseminating the results of the project’s activities.