The aim of the PESFOR-W COST Action is to synthesize knowledge, provide guidance and encourage collaborative research to improve Europe’s capacity to use Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) to achieve Water Framework Directive (WFD) targets & other policy objectives through incentives for planting woodlands to reduce agricultural diffuse pollution to watercourses.
A brief description about this COST Action is given in the PESFOR Flyer 2019.
The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) aims to ensure restoration of Europe’s water bodies to ‘good ecological status’ by 2027. Many Member States will struggle to meet this target, with around half of EU river catchments currently reporting below standard water quality. Diffuse pollution from agriculture represents a major pressure, affecting over 90% of river basins. Accumulating evidence shows that recent improvements to agricultural practices are benefiting water quality but in many cases will be insufficient to achieve WFD objectives. There is growing support for land use change to help bridge the gap, with a particular focus on targeted tree planting to intercept and reduce the delivery of diffuse pollutants to water. This form of integrated catchment management offers multiple benefits to society but may incur significant costs to landowners and managers.
New economic instruments, in combination with spatial targeting, need to be developed to ensure cost-effective solutions – including tree planting for water benefits, are realised. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are flexible, incentive-based mechanisms that could play an important role in promoting land use change to delivery water quality targets. PESFOR-W will consolidate learning from existing woodlands for water PES schemes in Europe and help standarize approaches to evaluating the environmental effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of woodland measures. It will also create a European network through which PES schemes can be facilitated, extended and improved, for example by incorporating other ecosystem services linking with aims of the wider forests-carbon policy nexus.
Further details can be found in the Memorandum of Understanding.
The Action started on 18th October 2016 and finished on 17th April 2021.
For further information, please contact:
WG1’s primary objective was to characterize and critically evaluate the governance models and design structure of W-for-W PES. It examined:
Its aims were to identify organisational and policy arrangements that could increase the effectiveness of PES schemes and improve their governance. An institutional and governance analysis approach was adopted. Findings informed the work of WG2 and WG3 and fed directly into the User Manual. WG1 evaluated European W-for-W PES through expert meetings and STSMs, which compared and contrasted institutional settings, governance structures, payment mechanisms, contracts and procedures, different actors’ roles and expectations, and institutional and actor interactions. Evaluations also considered drivers, roles of national legislation and ‘green’ taxes in creating demand, property rights issues and quality assurance underpinning associated markets.
WG2’s primary objective was to consider the environment effectiveness of woodland creation measures to reduce agricultural diffuse pollution. It developed and compared model performance, and provided a methodology and guidance on strengths and weaknesses of data and models to inform valuation approaches and assessments of cost effectiveness by WG3. The focus was to provide value ranges for a standard set of measures to reduce key diffuse pollutants, and to use these to populate look-up tables for use by pollutant and ecosystem services models. The Action ensured free-of-charge access to models; data ownership remaining with the source. Potential impacts on water resources were also assessed, particularly the ability of woodland creation to increase water use and how this might be influenced by climate change. Work was facilitated through STSMs, workshops and a training school.
WG3’s primary objective was to consider the cost-effectiveness of woodland creation measures to improve water quality and providing other benefits. Work focused on:
STSMs were used to develop best practice in estimating the cost and social effectiveness of W-for-W PES, and to identify topics for further study. A training school was held.
WG4’s main aim was to communicate, disseminate and market project activities and results: by developing a European PES Case Study repository which is shared with practitioners, policymakers and stakeholders, to promote best practice (making information more accessible to potential PES buyers, suppliers and intermediaries, including use of mapping tools); by publishing the ‘User Manual: Smarter Guidance on woodlands-for-water PES schemes’; and by an STSM exploring how to market PES schemes. WG4 synthesised results from WG1-WG3 and provided a stakeholder forum for dialogue about enabling factors and potential barriers in mainstreaming PES, such as discussing undesirable consequences (e.g., ‘commodification of nature’, implicit redistributions of property rights/social equity, or ‘crowding out’ of intrinsic pro-social motivations).
Case studies are important to help illustrate how woodland for water PES schemes operate in practice.
2021: Case study factsheets
The PESFOR-W Spatial Repository includes selected case studies on Woodland-for-Water PES schemes collected by COST PESFOR-W members during the action, with a focus on the countries participating in the action. Users can browse and select the cases through several search fields (intervention type, ecosystem type, country, state, etc.).
If you have an additional case study to be added to the repository, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lead author – T R Nisbet
Contributing authors – M-B Andreucci, R De Vreese, L Högbom, S Kay, M Kelly-Quinn, A Leonardi, M I Lyubenova, P Ovando Pol, P Quinteiro, I Pérez Silos, G Valatin.
The User Manual has been translated into various languages. Different versions available here:-
Our PESFOR-W online Skills Database includes all members and associated persons that have expertise in our theme and who have indicated that they wish to be part of this.
For amendments to the database or further information please contact email@example.com.
Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) were exchange visits aimed at strengthening existing networks and fostering collaboration between researchers that contribute to the objectives of the Action.
Criteria for selecting STSMs included:-
Priority topics included:
The Training Schools aimed to facilitate capacity building on a topic relevant to the theme of the respective COST Action through the delivery of intensive training on a new or emerging subject. They were designed to offer familiarisation with unique equipment or expertise and were typically, although not exclusively, used for the benefit of ECI and PhD students. They were not intended to provide general training.
The following Working Group meetings were held.
The Action had a Core Group which prepared MC decisions and, where not of strategic importance or legally requiring approval by the MC, took decisions on behalf of the MC. This allowed for rapid assessment of key aspects relating to the work of PESFOR-W; these include choice of meeting venues and dates as well as encouragement and administration of Short Term Scientific Missions.
Working Group 1 – Design and Governance
Working Group 2 – Environmental Effectiveness
Working Group 3 – Cost-Effectiveness
Working Group 4 – Communication, Dissemination & Marketing
See here for a list of Core Group Meetings
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a funding agency for research and innovation networks. Our Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and enable scientists to grow their ideas by sharing them with their peers. This boosts their research, career and innovation. www.cost.eu
Funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union – EU COST Action CA15206.