This Innovation Action will test an alternative way to stimulate the generation of much needed forest ecosystem services in a densely populated region, Flanders. This alternative approach should lead to a more efficient use of the limited financial resources and support initiatives that are considered important to the relevant stakeholders and society as a whole.
The ecosystem services were selected based on a set of criteria, amongst which the absence of an existing subsidy system was an important one. We aim to implement two pilots, although these can still be revised: restoration of habitats in hunting areas and the creation of shooting strips at forest borders in rural areas. Through the project we want to build bridges between stakeholders with different values by jointly looking for common objectives and benefits. The pilot projects should also underline the importance of forest ecosystem services for society as a whole, and show that it is possible to find balanced solutions to ecological, societal and economic challenges.
The nature of the selected Forest Ecosystem Services inevitably leads us to a broad range of stakeholders. These are, amongst others, individual hunters and farmers, representatives of a wide range of civil society organisations, public bodies and policy makers. Together with the stakeholders, the mechanism (i.e. reversed auction) that is up for testing during the pilot projects, will be fine-tuned and adapted to their specific needs and contexts, and we will invite the stakeholders to actively use the proposed mechanisms so they can participate in mid-term and final evaluation exercises.
If the results of the pilot projects of reverse auction are positive, we want to gather evidence that helps to demonstrate that positive effect. SINCERE is an excellent tool to bring all the experiences and lessons learned from our case and from the cases elsewhere in the project together and to draw conclusions that will inform policy makers. That, in the end, should support a coherent (European) approach to supporting the provision of forest ecosystem services in a way that combines ecological imperatives with societal demands and economic challenges and opportunities.
SINCERE provides us with the means and scientific support to test a promising alternative system of supporting the provision of forest ecosystem services.
Innovation Case Leader: Alexander Thery