Creating incentives for the preservation of ecosystem services
© FSC GD / Vlad SokhinEcosystem services (water, carbon, biodiversity, soil, and recreational services) are the benefits that we obtain from nature. They provide society with a wide range of benefits from reliable flows of clean water to productive soil and carbon sequestration.
FSC and forest ecosystems
FSC has been taking care of the world’s forests for over two decades, helping to ensure that forests and their ecosystem services are responsibly managed. Building on existing world-renowned certification, we are developing new tools that will show businesses, investors, and governments that these natural benefits are being preserved, and will reward participating FSC certificate holders for doing so.
Creating incentives for the protection of forest ecosystems
FSC-certified forest management already requires the protection of ecosystem services. The new tools that we are developing can be used by businesses and governments to demonstrate the impact their purchases, payments, and investments have on preserving ecosystem services.
As rates of deforestation increase globally, FSC is developing tools to promote ecosystem services payments. These are an alternative incentive model to the short-term economic benefits of forest degradation for those not yet FSC certified, and an added economic support for FSC certificate holders already managing their forests responsibly.
What are the FSC ecosystem services tools?
1. Measurement: The first tool is a common methodology that FSC certificate holders can use to demonstrate the impact of their forest management activities on ecosystem services.
2. Claims: FSC ecosystem services claims will provide governments, investors, buyers, and businesses with assurance that the impacts they are paying for do preserve ecosystem services.
3. Saleable assets: FSC will also be exploring the creation of saleable assets. In addition to exploring an FSC high conservation value (HCV) credit, we will also look at whether FSC ecosystem services claims could be ‘layered’ on top of external saleable carbon credits and water assets.
FSC ecosystem services tools will provide the financial sector with timely, audited, and localized data about the impact of their investments on ecosystem services. Additionally, businesses will be able to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
Placing monetary value on ecosystem services, through mechanisms such as payment for ecosystem services (PES), helps us create incentives for forest managers to protect and restore ecosystems.
The HCV credit pilot project
To reward forest managers for protecting important ecosystems FSC is running the high conservation value (HCV) credit pilot project. Through this pilot project, organizations will financially sponsor the protection of HCV forest areas in participating forests. The ‘credits’ awarded to sponsoring organizations can be used as evidence of their support for protecting HCVs. The results will allow FSC to determine the viability and attractiveness of HCV credits as an effective incentive for responsible forest management and protection.
The ForCES project
In collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, FSC launched the five-year Forest Certification for Ecosystem Services (ForCES) project in 2011 as an incentive for the preservation of valuable ecosystem services in responsibly managed forests. The aim of the project is to adapt FSC standards to emerging ecosystem services markets and target ecosystem services with present or future market potential. The ForCES project is being implemented and tested in several pilot sites, specifically in the countries below.
For more information on helping us develop and promote FSC ecosystem services tools, or to support or invest in ecosystem services on FSC-certified forests, please contact Chris Henschel, FSC International, Programme Manager (Ecosystem Services), c.henschel at fsc point org