Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are mechanisms which allow the private and public sector to fund environmental enhancement or conservation initiatives. They create financial incentives for farmers and other landowners (“sellers”) to contribute to improving the environment above and beyond the minimum standard required by law or regulation.
The enhanced ecosystem service delivery brings direct or indirect financial benefits to industry, developers, and the public (“buyers”), incentivising them to invest in these projects.
Offsetting schemes are similar to PES schemes, except that they are driven by regulatory or voluntary caps on environmental degradation, incentivising buyers to invest in projects that deliver additional environmental gain.
Hundreds of schemes are in place worldwide, including a number in the UK, delivering benefits for water quality and quantity, flood risk, carbon, biodiversity, pest management and recreation. This is a growing market with a number of economic, regulatory, and environmental drivers.
Key drivers for PES and Offsetting schemes are economic, regulatory and environmental
There are direct financial benefits to buyers and indirect financial benefits to society. Sellers receive a secure, alternative income source for their land.
These schemes allow us to meet local, national, and international targets for water, carbon, biodiversity and other environmental factors.
Essentially, involvement in such schemes deliver enhancements above and beyond minimum legal and regulatory standards.
Farm emissions of sediment, pesticide and nutrients to watercourse are in line with minimum requirements. Water company bears cost of treatment to potable standards through end-of-pipe methods.