Payment for Ecosystem Services

An approach to encouraging the uptake of ecosystem services (ES)-enhancing farming systems is through “payment for ecosystem services” (PES) to private landowners (FAO, 2007). In this approach, those that benefit from provision of ES make payments to those that supply them, thereby maintaining ES. Examples of working PES schemes currently in practice are found in different areas of the world, such as Costa Rica, Indonesia, The Philippines, Nepal, China, India, United States, Kenya, Tanzania and Europe (Sandhu et al. 2016). The current focus of these schemes is on water, carbon and biodiversity in addressing environmental problems through positive incentives to land managers (FAO, 2007). Such schemes would not only help to improve the environment and human well-being but also ensure food security and long-term farm sustainability (Rosegrant and Cline 2003). The above description was based on the work by Sandhu and Wratten (2013). A commercial example comes from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Unilever – see where a company rewards milk suppliers if they meet the company’s criteria for evidence of environmental responsibility, as well as of animal and human welfare. However, details of how this system works are not available on the company’s website and enquiries for more detail are met with statements about company confidentiality.


Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2007. The state of food and agriculture: Paying farmers for environmental services. Rome, Italy. 222p.

Rosegrant MW, Cline SA, 2003. Global food security: Challenges and policies. Science 302, 1917-1919.

Sandhu H, Wratten S, Porter J, Costanza R, Pretty J, Reganold J, 2016. Mainstreaming ecosystem services into future farming. Solutions, March-April: 40–47.

Sandhu H, Wratten S, 2013. Ecosystem services in farmland and cities. In: Ecosystem services in agricultural and urban landscapes. Wratten S,

Sandhu H, Cullen R, Costanza R, (eds.). Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. 3-15p.