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The science of smarter regulation

From cleaning air to regulating the climate, nature provides an extraordinary range of free services essential to our health, wealth and wellbeing. Globally, these ecosystem services are estimated to be worth at least $125 trillion, yet changes in land use can result in heavy losses. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes help to prevent the degradation and unsustainable use of valuable ecosystems by enabling those who benefit from the services to give landowners, rural communities and others a powerful economic incentive to protect them.

By enabling developing countries to meet eligibility standards, NERC scientists have helped nations to secure millions in international funding to address environmental degradation through PES schemes.

Research in Gabon to create the first ever ‘carbon map’ helped secure $50M (£34M) of investment to establish a carbon and forest monitoring scheme in this heavily forested country. In South America, Bolivia received $27M (£20M) to set up a national scheme to preserve tropical forests to benefit local communities. In this instance, researchers developed simulations showing how goals could be achieved with taxes on deforestation, alongside payments for forest preservation.

With support from NERC, researchers have been at the heart of designing, implementing, evaluating and improving PES schemes around the world – tackling fundamental scientific questions to maximise impact in developing nations.

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