University of Stirling

Programme

The Eco-Delivery project will consist of two integrated components: (1) a research programme and (2) a training and knowledge exchange programme.

RESEARCH PROGRAMME

Eco-Delivery concentrates on wetlands and forests as the two main ecosystems to investigate a set of general problems facing the design of Payments for Ecosystem Service (PES) schemes. These problems can be captured into PES design issues related to (1) spatial coordination, (2) trade-offs versus joint production of ecosystem services, and (3) the effectiveness and distribution of costs and benefits.

Spatial coordination

Agri-environmental schemes in general have placed little focus on the spatial coordination of participation. However, in ecological terms, natural habitat is heterogeneous in quality and high value habitat patches should be made priority for protection. Moreover, there is a strong interdependency between habitats in the sense that the ecological value of protecting any particular patch of habitat depends on what other areas are also being protected. Incentive designs need to recognise that target habitats and species’ home ranges frequently overlap private land boundaries and payment schemes must be designed in such a way as to avoid deleterious effects associated with habitat fragmentation and excess edge habitat.

Trade-offs and joint production of ecosystem services

Market-based instruments are typically thought of as being targeted at single ecosystem services. For example, allowing forest owners to earn tradable carbon credits through avoided deforestation or through afforestation is a mechanism aimed specifically at the service of carbon sequestration. However, other ecosystem services will be affected by behavioural responses to measures aimed at carbon sequestration. For instance, growing forests solely for the purpose to sequester carbon may have adverse impacts on biodiversity or water quality. Consideration needs to be given to (i) the extent of these trade-offs and (ii) how mechanisms can be designed to reduce undesirable trade-offs.

Effectiveness and distribution of costs and benefits

Government decisions on how to set baselines for market-based instruments have major effects on their outcomes in terms of effectiveness and the distribution of costs and benefits. For example, allowing forest owners in Brazil or Indonesia to earn carbon credits by reducing deforestation rates will have variable impacts depending on whether a baseline is set dependent on current deforestation rates, historic rates or global or regional averages. Similarly, whether such forest carbon credits can be traded to meet carbon reduction commitments in Annex 1 countries will have impacts on both the supply of sequestration services and on existing carbon markets through supply effects on prices.
These factors will be investigated in the three-year Eco-Delivery project through a focus on wetlands (first year, forestry (second year) and the development and design of conservation auctions (third year). The menu on the right-hand-side provides more detail about each.

TRAINING AND KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE PROGRAMME

One of the principal aims of the programme is to develop insights which will be useful to policymakers concerned with ecosystem supply management. To meet this aim, the sharing of knowledge, experience, recent developments and expectations is of utmost importance. This overall information sharing process will be fostered by bringing together various stakeholders, ranging from (environmental) economists and ecologists from academia, the public and private sectors, consultancy, and environmental agencies.
Every three months a research seminar will be held at the University of Stirling with the aim of discussing project research results and to obtain feedback on a regular and systematic basis. In this respect we plan to extend the policy and scientific communication with already established events in the UK, such as the UK Network of Environmental Economists (UKNEE) and the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) Environmental and Energy Economics Workshop.

Three international workshops will be organized on the following themes respectively:

1. Environmental Valuation Methods for Ecosystem Services
2. Policy Mechanisms for Ecosystem Delivery
3. Conservation Auctions and Modelling

Attached to both workshops will be a two-day specialized training course to potential participants in the workshops. These courses will be held the two days preceding the workshops with the aim of providing participants with a state-of-the-art training in the relevant subject field.

In addition three public University lectures by international experts are planned on the above themes.

If you are interested in our work, meetings and/or training programme, please register via our website or get in touch with Dr. Frans de Vries at f.p.devries@stir.ac.uk.

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University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, Scotland, UK, Telephone: +44 (0)1786 473171
Scottish Charity Number SC 011159