Developing a Framework for a Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) Scheme in the Cotswolds

Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) is a term used to describe a range of schemes through which the beneficiaries, or users, of ecosystem services provide payment to the stewards, or providers of those services.

The project set out to develop a PES pilot which will extend into the new Cotswold Catchment Sensitive Farming target area. The range of pressures in the whole catchment ecosystem are caused by a wide spectrum of interconnecting factors, but primarily influenced by land use, directly linked to human activity and the need to produce food for an expanding population. Parallel to this there is an obligation to fulfill European Union Directives and strategies on water quality (Water Framework Directive), the Nitrates Directive, carbon reduction, biodiversity and landscape protection.

The pilot focused on data collection and modeling, identification and capture of the ideas of buyers and sellers, and collection of evidence of need with field trials. The results were brought together to formulate a workable PES scheme that is locally relevant, supported by all partners, and that integrates all wider strategic delivery opportunities for food production, the rural economy, landscape and biodiversity.

The pilot took a partnership approach to consider a number of issues rather than one single issue in isolation.  In order to do this, the project created a dialogue between the ‘Sellers’ (farmers) and the ‘Buyers’ or ‘Beneficiaries’, which represented the range of interests and issues considered within the PES.  This has been characterised as three inter-related areas: ‘Products’, ‘Practice’ and ‘People’.

The partnership was led by practical land management advisers (FWAG South West) and academic researchers (CCRI), assisted by researchers in the University of West of England, Thames water, CZERO, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the National Farmers Union and the farmers in the catchment area.

The final report of the Cotswold PES pilot project is available online. The overall report is also available online.

Chris Short was the CCRI project leader.

Meeting 16 July 2014

On 16th July the members of the partnership held an open meeting with farmers in the pilot area.  The presentations are available on the CCRI Slideshare page at these links:

The final report was published in November 2014.

CCRI’s work on the project was highlighted in a Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) newsletter aimed at farmers in the Cotswolds Catchment – Download.