Forests are important ecosystems delivering multiple benefits to the society in the form of goods and services such as wood, food, clean water, energy, protection from floods and soil erosion, regulation of climate cycles, recreation and cultural values. These benefits are known as forest ecosystem services.
Forest ecosystem services (FES) play an important role in human well-being, make significant direct or indirect contributions to national economies and contribute to environmental stability.
A major challenge facing the delivery of FES is that many of the services provided are not marketed, making it difficult to observe their values directly. Also, where these goods and services are supplied to either society or specific groups of users for free or at a price that can be far below the production costs of equivalent goods and services, forest owners receive little or no monetary incentive for their provision. This can result in declines in both the quantity and quality of the services. Possible solutions include applying regulations to enforce their provision or developing incentive mechanisms including market based instruments such as payments ecosystem services (PES), which encourage forest owners to provide the FES. Knowledge of how to estimate the value of these services is often a crucial step in providing evidence to support the introduction of such mechanisms.
At the Seventh Ministerial Conference held in Madrid, in October 2015, the ministers responsible for forests expressed their commitment to “recognise the key role of forest ecosystem services in the contribution of forests to a green economy“ as well as to “promote the exchange of information on methodologies and practices on the valuation of and payments for forest ecosystem services”. They also committed themselves to “support the development and possible application of common methodologies for the valuation of forest ecosystem services” and “to have the full value of forest ecosystem services better reflected in forest related policies and tools.”
These commitments are reflected in the new FOREST EUROPE Work Programme 2016-2020 through the action aimed at Promotion of the pan-European practices on valuation of and payment for FES. In this regard, an Expert Group has been established to continue analysing different approaches to valuation of and payments for FES existing in the pan-European region. Based on the outcomes of the Expert Group work, a web-based portal will be established to serve as a platform for knowledge and information exchange as well as sharing best practices, in which PES present a useful tool for transition to a green economy.
A group of experts has been constituted in order to explore and propose a pan-European approach to valuation of forest ecosystem services and means to facilitate implementation of the valuation approach.
- Kick off meeting of the Expert Group on Valuation of Forest Ecosystem Services
- Second meeting of the Expert Group on Valuation of Forest Ecosystem Services
- FOREST EUROPE Workshop on Valuation of Forest Ecosystem Services
- Expert Group and Workshop on Valuation of Forest Ecosystem Services – final report
Former FOREST EUROPE commitments towards FES
Prior the Madrid Ministerial Resolution 1 “Forest sector in the center of a green economy” (2015) issues on forest ecosystem services had already been reflected in following ministerial documents:
- Vienna Living Forest Summit Declaration “European Forests – Common Benefits, Shared Responsibilities” (2003)
- Warsaw Declaration (2007)
- Warsaw Resolution 2: “Forest and Water” (2007)
- Oslo Ministerial Decision: “European Forests 2020” (2011)
Further reading – recent and former publications, project websites and work done by regional or global organizations and initiatives
- EUSTAFOR and Patterson, T. (2011). Ecosystem Services in European State Forests, European State Forest Association, Brussels, 40 p.
- Thorsen B.J., Mavsar R., Tyrväinen L., Prokofieva I., Stenger A. (editors). (2014). The Provision of Forest Ecosystem Services -What Science Can Tell Us 5, 2014 Volume I: Quantifying and valuing non-marketed ecosystem services
- Thorsen B.J., Mavsar R., Tyrväinen L., Prokofieva I., Stenger A. (editors). (2014). The Provision of Forest Ecosystem Services -What Science Can Tell Us 5, 2014 Volume II: Assessing cost of provision and designing economic instruments for ecosystem services
- UNECE/UNEP/FAO (2014): The Value of Forest: Payments for Ecosystem Services in a Green Economy. Geneva Timber and Forest Study Paper 34
- Viszlai, I., Barredo, J.I., San-Miguel-Ayanz, J. (2016). Payments for Forest Ecosystme Services – SWOT Analysis and Possibilties for Implementation. EUR 28128 EN, doi:10.2788/957929
Work done by regional or global organizations:
- Work on forest ecosystem services carried out by UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section
- Work done by TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
- NEWFOREX – New ways to value and market forest externalities – http://www.newforex.org/
- FORVALUE – Study on the develepment and marketing of non-marketes forest products and services – http://www.efi.int/portal/research/projects/?todo=3&projectid=151 , final report available at http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/sites/agriculture/files/analysis/external/forest_products/report_en.pdf
- EUROFOREX – Cost Action E45 EUROpean FORest EXternalities – http://www.efi.int/portal/projects/cost_e45