Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are an innovative environmental policy instrument that aims to reward natural resource managers in return for maintaining or improving the provision of ecosystem services. A wide variety of PES projects and programmes have been implemented in recent years, mostly in developing countries, and the possibility of extending the application of this instrument in Europe is increasingly considered. In this paper, we discuss the key definitional and operational principles of PES and present two initiatives developed in Catalonia that can be partially characterised as PES, namely private forest reserves and land stewardship agreements. They are financed by the public administration and environmental foundations, and allow the conservation of mature forests and valuable ecosystems. We also discuss the opportunities and challenges involved in developing new PES schemes focused on the prevention of forest fires through extensive cattle grazing and the development of small-scale watershed schemes involving private water bottling companies. We conclude that PES is a promising environmental policy instrument because it allows mobilising additional resources for environmental protection by involving private companies and foundations whilst raising environmental awareness.


Ignasi Puig




Spanish Journal of Rural Development

bibliographical reference

Russi, D., Corbera, E., Puig-Ventosa, I., Cazorla-Clariso, X. (2011) Payment for Ecosystems Services in Catalonia, Spain. A review of experience and potential applications. Spanish Journal of Rural Development, Vol. II, Special Issue 1: 87-100.