Approaches to cost-effectiveness of payments for tree planting and forest management for water quality services

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Valatin G., Ovando P., Abildtrup J., Accastello C., Andreucci M., Chikalanov A., ...More

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES, vol.53, no.2022, pp.1-14, 2022 (Journal Indexed in SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 53 Issue: 2022
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2021.101373
  • Title of Journal : ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-14



The evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of Payments for ecosystem services (PES) in fostering positive environmental

outcomes has been central to the scientific debate on their implementation. PES cost-effectiveness can

be affected by a myriad of environmental, institutional and socio-economic factors operating at different spatial

and temporal scales. Moreover, it can be affected by synergies and trade-offs in the provision of ecosystem

services (ES). Planting trees is increasingly considered an effective measure to provide water-related ES. It can

enhance watershed services such as nutrient retention, erosion control, stream flow regulation, protection

against extreme events (e.g., floods and landslides), and lead to a permanent change in land use, replacing

agricultural activities that give rise to diffuse pollution. Very few studies currently exist on the cost-effectiveness

of tree planting for water quality benefits PES schemes in Europe. Including both review and research elements,

this paper highlights challenges in undertaking such assessments. It develops a conceptual framework to help

underpin future studies, with its application to three case studies in Denmark explored. Particular attention is

given to the estimation of environmental effectiveness in the provision of water quality services and the

importance of co-benefits. In the case where we exclude co-benefits from the analysis, the financial costeffectiveness

is always above zero, with central estimates (without discounting environmental improvements)