Exploring payments for ecosystem services in the context of native tree planting in Lebanon

Sarkissian, Arbi J. (2015) Exploring payments for ecosystem services in the context of native tree planting in Lebanon. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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From local governance regimes to policies and markets, diverse institutions are crucial for ensuring effective natural resource management. Payments for Ecosystems Services (PES) are being adopted globally as a potential strategy for protecting and increasing forests by paying for environmental goods and services not captured in the market. Large-scale reforestation efforts have also increased globally, but are mostly aimed at increasing forest cover rather than ensuring resilient ecosystems. Many have argued that such incentivised reforestation schemes could lead to plantations of limited species diversity. Enhancing tree species diversity simultaneously with other forest ecosystem services (e.g. carbon sequestration) in reforestation therefore remains a challenge. Since many land managers are reluctant to voluntarily plant trees of little market or use value, PES may offer a strategy for enhancing tree diversity if stakeholders’ perceptions were understood. I therefore explored how PES should be designed to deliver biodiversity-enhancing reforestation. Empirical research was carried out in mountainous villages within Lebanon’s newly designated Important Plant Areas (IPAs). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with local authorities and key informants in 48 villages within nine IPAs exposing numerous socio-institutional and biophysical constraints to reforestation on municipal lands. I then set out to gauge landowners’ perceptions of PES schemes with varying levels of conditionality. In this mixed-methods study, I found that private landowners are very diverse in their preferences and attitudes towards PES schemes expressed through their discussions about risks and reward. I later surveyed national stakeholders’ preferences for native species to be used in reforestation. Similarly, these stakeholders (and potential PES buyers) also exhibit preference heterogeneity when prioritising native species for reforestation. Finally, I estimate a production possibility frontier from a choice experiment conducted with landowners in the Bcharre-Ehden IPA. My results indicated that real trade-offs do exist between the extent of forest cover and diversity of species used in reforestation. However, while limited in scope, it is possible for reforesting private lands with diverse native forest species cost-effectively through identifying and targeting willing suppliers (i.e. landowners). Increasing participation requires further research to investigate whether absentee residents, with landholdings not tied to commercial farming, would be willing to accept low-cost payments for biodiversity-enhancing reforestation. My thesis provides insights from empirical studies that will contribute to both research and policy in designing PES for achieving multiple objectives cost-effectively.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2016 09:44
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2016 09:44
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/6570
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