Watershed Connect, a project of Forest Trends, posted an article discussing watershed payment programs and addressing the long term question that has plagued practitioners and environmental policy makers for years: what is the best way to scale up watershed payment program projects? This issue was a major point discussed by various policy makers, practitioners and scientists last month at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. While there have been various solutions pioneered and implemented all over the world, Watershed Connect showcases a few examples of small scale projects that are successfully growing in different regions.
The article mentions small scale watershed projects that are both successful and growing. While their designs differ, the overall approach is similar. Watersheds must be addressed in a holistic way that takes into account the livelihoods of people in the community in addition to the ecological and social needs of the surrounding area. The article highlights the experiences of Nigel Asquith, Director of Strategy and Policy at the Environmental Non Profit, Fundacióon Natura Bolivia. When implementing a local level payment watershed system in Bolivia, he discovered that significantly more local people participated when the word payment was replaced by the term reciprocity in explaining the watershed services. People understood and related to in-kind benefits such as receiving fruit tree seedlings better than they related to cash payments. This is just one of many examples of how adapting to local customs and norms, even in terminology and benefits, can greatly help expand the programs.
It will be possible to scale up these systems in ways that are simple yet effective by discovering the environmental outcomes and benefits that motivate the individual communities in which such watershed payment programs are implemented in. By avoiding excessive or confusing language and additional objectives and working at the landscape or community levels, Payment Watershed Programs can be put into action and adapted in a focused, clear and flexible way, which appears to be the key in ensuring safe and clean water on a larger scale.
Seem the full Watershed Connect article here.