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Payments for ecosystem services in Brazil


Around the world, initiatives are being developed and implemented at different scales to reward those that are protecting water catchments, conserving forests and caring for natural habitats. Where payments are involved, this approach is known as Payments for Environmental Services or PES.

WWF-Brazil together with a number of partners has just published a series of guidelines aimed at the Brazilian government and experts in this field, to inform the development of a national policy on payments for environmental services.

Rainforest and wetland © Michel Roggo / WWF-CanonRainforest and wetland © Michel Roggo / WWF-Canon

In the country, several states and municipalities are already using this approach. The idea is to have a national policy that aggregates and expands these types of experiences throughout the country.

The guidance focuses on an existing bill (PL 792/2007), which has made slow progress over seven years through Brazil’s House of Representatives. Jean François Timmers, head of the public policy team at WWF-Brazil, considers this proposed law to have many positive aspects, but he thinks it needs adjustments to ensure a coherent national approach that is able to catalyse, enhance and quicken payments for environmental services in practice.

WWF came together with a group of organisations, involving civil society and the private sector to generate the recommendations, which are published in Portuguese as Guidelines for the National Policy on Payments for Environmental Services. The goal is to recommend actions for Brazil to better face the accelerated loss of natural resources and the disastrous consequences that can result, with the current São Paulo water crisis being just the tip of the iceberg of potential future impacts.

According to Jean François, several Brazilian experiences already show promising ways to inspire and inform a national policy that addresses the issue. Among these initiatives is Acre State’s System of Incentives for Environmental Services (SISA), which includes a REDD scheme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). WWF has supported the development of SISA and its REDD programme, known as ISA Carbon, with support from the Sky Rainforest Rescue project. The programme is a pioneer in state-wide REDD policies and considered an international model.

Aerial view of the Pantanal © Anastasia Taylor-LindAerial view of the Pantanal © Anastasia Taylor-Lind

Another example is the Water Producer Programme run by Brazil’s National Water Agency (ANA). This scheme works in various Brazilian states to protect and restore the vegetation around freshwater springs to ensure the continued availability and quality of water supplies. WWF is supporting two programmes in this scheme in the Pantanal headwaters, under its partnership with HSBC.

I feel that WWF is well placed not only to convene key organisations to generate these recommendations, but to also bring lessons from real-life work we support on the ground, such as Sky Rainforest Rescue in Acre, into the policy arena. A stronger legal framework for payments for ecosystem services in Brazil will benefit ecosystems and those involved in their protection, across the country. Its just one of the ways that Sky Rainforest Rescue is able to inform processes that will benefit many more than one billion trees.

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