Ecosystem Services are the benefits of nature to mankind.
Ecosystems are communities formed by the interaction between living (plants, animals, microbes) and non-living organisms (air, water, mineral soil). Human beings are both part of ecosystems and benefit from ecosystems in many ways. The benefits are known as Ecosystem services.
While many ecosystem service benefits flow either directly or indirectly to markets, the full environmental cost of providing these services is not usually included in the market price signals. If an ecosystem service is regarded as ‘free’, there will be no incentive to value its specific role or use. Hence, the undervaluing of many ecosystems services, and the valuing of only a narrow range of services, has led to patterns of unsustainable resource use resulting in environmental degradation.
Value is most meaningful and measurable in terms of what people are willing and able to give up for the good or services. Value is anthropocentric, and the process of valuation is utilitarian: Its purpose is to understand the well-being of people. Non-market good such as clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystem have real economic value. Non-market values are more difficult to measure than market values.
This is why “human behaviors are a significant driver for environmental issues”. The behavior can be valuable in designing effective environmental policies (Choi and Fielding, 2013). However, we often loss something in value. In these cases, we can look at value as willingness to pay to avoid loss, or willingness to accept compensation for loss.
For example: Coaster development may infringe upon society`s “windows to the sea”. The economic value of this loss can be measured as society`s willingness to pay to avoid that loss, or the amount of compensation they would be willing to accept to be just as well off with the loss. 2.
1 Ecosystem Services and PES However, ecosystem services are grouped into four main categories according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): 1. Provisioning services (these are products obtained from ecosystems such as food, fiber, fuel, herbs, genetic resources and fresh water); 2. Regulating services (the capacity of ecosystems to regulate important natural processes, for example regulation of climate, quality and quantity of water, deforestation preservation); 3. Cultural services (the non-material benefits that people obtain such as spiritual enrichment, recreation value of landscapes and aesthetic experiences); and 4. The supporting services needed to maintain the other services (such as photosynthesis and nutrient recycling). The provision of such services might require communities living in the proximity of the ecosystem to undertake or not to undertake certain activities. To complete these tasks in the absence of 2 regulatory provision, the communities need a financial incentive.
The Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) is the mechanism and measure that governs these payments. In other words PES involves a series of payments to land or other natural resource owners in return for a guaranteed flow of ecosystem services or certain actions likely to enhance their provision overand-above what would otherwise be provided in the absence of payment. Since wetlands are one the ecosystems that can perform such vital roles in the environment, PES schemes become a relevant instrument for their sustainable management (Milon and Scrogin, 2006; Engel et al., 2008). Several developing countries such as Honduras, Costa Rica; Nicaragua currently have PES schemes (Kosoy et al.
, 2007). Since 2007 in Costa Rica nearly one million hectares of forest were preserved through PES programmmes, helping to increase the country`s forest cover to 50 per cent from a low of just 20 per cent. Between 2000 and 2007 the National Programme for Hydrological Environmental Services in Mexico has reduced the rate of deforestation from 1.6 per cent to 0.
6 per cent. In China over a six- year period, the Sloping Lands Conversion Programme and Cropland to Forest Programme planted about 37 million hectares. Over 50 million low-income Chinese households might have participated in PES schemes from the early pilots in the 1980s. The long-term watershed conservation program of New York City provides a source of high-quality drinking water to over nine million consumers. The program also generated sizable savings for the city administration – it was funded at the cost of US$1.5 billion compared to US$8–10 billion estimated for the construction of a water treatment plants, thus freeing resources for investments in other social and environmental programmes.