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Payments for Ecosystem Services as a policy tool for conserving the Portuguese Montado ecosystem

2011Payments for Ecosystem Services as a policy tool for conserving the Portuguese Montado ecosystem.DE TOLEDO RIBAS Thaís (Brazil)thais_ribas@yahoo.com.br
Organisation:University of Coimbra, Coimbra (PT) - New University of Lisbon (PT)Supervisor :Helena Freitas (UC) & Rui Ferreira dos Santos (UNL)
Summary: The oak woodlands found in southern Portugal, the Montados, are agro-silvo-pastoral systems sustained by traditional land management practices. This ecosystem is of high conservation value due to the economic and social importance of its direct outputs (i.e. cork, livestock and agriculture production), its aesthetic and cultural value, high biodiversity, and provision of several ecosystem services (ES). However, intensification and extension of traditional practices have been threatening Montado’s stability, and innovative policy tools are needed to maintain the economic viability of this productive system. “Payments for Ecosystem Services” (PES) is an incentive-based mechanism that has become a popular policy tool to address environmental problems. It relies on arrangements through which ecosystem service beneficiaries pay individuals or communities to undertake practices that increase levels of desired ES. PES is a highly variable instrument whose success is determined by choices in policy design combined with implementation context. The aim of this project is to thus propose PES as a conservation tool for the Montado ecosystem. This project started with literature reviews about Montado’s characteristics, conservation value and threats, followed by background research about PES and appropriate Montados ES for PES schemes. Research showed that Biodiversity Protection Services and Carbon Storage and Sequestration may serve for PES, and demand for these services may arise from voluntary buyers or government-funded payments. The last part of the project consisted of assessing the compatibility of different types of PES agreements within the Montados context and market limitations. This was based on case study analyses of payment schemes targeting the two types of services selected. The expected outcome from this work is the identification of PES scheme(s) applicable for Montados, complemented with a set of recommendations for implementing this policy tool.
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