Inside perspective on the First MAG Meeting in Flanders, Belgium
Innovation can only work when it is conceived to respond to real needs in a specific context, and is supported by those for whom it is developed.
In collaboration with the University of Leuven and the Flemish Agency for Nature and Forest, Natuurinvest will test the mechanism of a reverse auction as an innovative instrument to pay for ecosystem services. A reverse auction is a type of auction in which there are multiple sellers and one buyer and is a mechanism increasingly used for the purchases or payments for environmental services.
A select group of core stakeholders (forest owners, hunters, farmers, nature conservationists, researchers and state representatives) joined the first Multi-Actor Group (MAG) meeting in Brussels. We discussed the development of the two Belgian pilot projects that will be used as test cases, as a means to both generate support from those stakeholders, as well as to receive from them the necessary input to further refine and concretise the proposed options and adapt them to their contexts and needs.
A highly motivating and constructive discussion led to the initial definition and framing of the two pilots: habitat restoration and improvement in hunting areas; and the creation of wild boar buffers between forests and agricultural lands. These two topics have been considered as most relevant options to be included in the project, as they represent a very timely and ambitious attempt to address significant challenges in the context of Flanders.
While the concepts of reverse auction, habitat restoration and improvement, and the wild boar buffers have been clarified and some initial criteria and ideas of ways of working were developed, more needs to be done in order to fine-tune them and facilitate the implementation phase. This is work in progress and will be discussed during the second MAG meeting later this year.