Author: Juhani Pyykkönen, The Finnish Forest Centre
The project has proceeded to concrete steps of case examples by the time of our third stakeholder meeting. The idea in the Kuusamo case study is to test paying for ecosystem services. Paying for services as such is nothing new; different funding methods are part of everyday life. Paying for some ecosystem services, like timber production, is so evident, that one does not even think about it.
But are ecosystem services valuable enough to pay for? Do we recognise these services, are they visible, understandable? Stakeholder discussions have been one means to make services visible. But further discussions are needed to shape their value. This is dialogue innovation in process!
Not only the ecological, but also the sustainability of economic aspects have to be compared. Some businesses value wood production, some the beauty of standing trees and forests. To reach a new balance, it is better to admit that there is a competition among these services in certain areas. To find a balance in sensitive circumstances needs innovation on how to listen and how to appreciate differing opinions in the local innovation dialogue process.
It was clear for everybody, as one of the forest owners said, that attitudes play a crucial role in developing new models for supplying ecosystem services.
The head of Kuusamo town explained how the SINCERE project in Kuusamo has managed to take on board all the aspects of sustainability and stakeholder groups, so the view is broad enough in regards to social and political research.
Because the local environment and society is unique, the participative ecosystem planning process must also be local. National and international interaction and innovation is needed, keeping in mind that global policies are realised locally by mutually accepted steps.
The case studies are thinking tools, places for testing new ideas. Main innovations may lie in the innovative mental models which are making visible the value of ecosystem services for local stakeholders. Paying, as a technical process, is easy when the value of the service is recognised.
About Landscape and Recreation Value Trade
The Landscape and Recreation Value Trade is a payment for ecosystem services system which compensates forest owners for voluntarily enhancing the provision of landscape and recreational values in their own forests. The funds for the mechanism are collected from visitors and/or tourism entrepreneurs using the area and a model for piloting this mechanism is established in the Ruka-Kuusamo tourism area in Finland.