Integrated assessments of payments for ecosystem services programs
PNAS 2013 - Proceedings of the National Academy os Sciences of the United States of America
Jianguo Liu and Wu Yang
Ecosystems provide crucial services such as clean water to humans. Numerous payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs have been implemented around the world. However, their socioeconomic and environmental consequences are rarely quantified simultaneously. In PNAS, Zheng et al. (1) present an insightful empirical analysis of socioeconomic and environmental effects of a PES program that supplies drinking water to ∼20 million residents in Beijing, China. The work also brings ecosystem service research closer to fully account for the pros and cons of PES programs, laying important groundwork to quantify telecouplings—socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances (2). Using the Paddy Land to Dry Land (PLDL) program as a case study, Zheng et al. (1) quantify benefits and costs to both service providers and beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are residents in Beijing, which is >100 km away from the service providers who are farmers participating in the PLDL program in the Miyun Reservoir watershed. Miyun Reservoir is the only surface water reservoir serving Beijing. Approximately 20% of the Miyun Reservoir watershed is located in the greater municipality of Beijing, whereas the remaining 80% is in the upstream Hebei Province (1). Specifically, PLDL converts the majority of paddy land to dry land by growing corn instead of rice so that less water is used for agricultural production and more water is available to Beijing residents. Zheng et al. (1) provide convincing evidence how integrated approaches can help address complex water resources management challenges.