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Positive effects of payments for ecosystem services on biodiversity and socio-economic development: Examples from Natura 2000 sites in Italy

Uta Schirpke, Davide Marino, Angelo Marucci and Margherita Palmieri

Ecosystem Services, 2018, vol. 34, issue PA, 96-105

Abstract: Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are promising instruments to create additional funding for biodiversity conservation, but related socio-economic effects are rarely assessed. This study aimed at evaluating socio-economic benefits using a set of indicators related to 13 topics. Based on 50 cases in 21 Natura 2000 sites in Italy, our results revealed positive effects on the socio-economic development of the local communities as well as an improvement in the defined conservation objectives. At greater spatial scales, potential effects were related to an increase in knowledge, innovation, and public finances supporting a green economy. Our results suggest that the level of socio-economic impacts is determined by a combination of several factors, including the type of ecosystem services, the conditions of the PES agreement, and the general socio-economic context. Specifically, PES related to regulating (e.g., water recharge, flood mitigation) and cultural services (e.g., recreational value) had positive effects on ecological and socio-economic conditions. Our findings highlight how PES schemes in protected areas can contribute to overcoming biodiversity finance gaps and strengthen sustainable development. However, PES should be planned carefully to not privilege individual ecosystems or services. As PES focus on a rather short period, long-term effects need to be evaluated.

Keywords: Biodiversity conservation; Green economy; Protected areas; Payments for ecosystem services; Socio-economic well-being (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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