New governance models and payments for mountain ecosystem services in Tuscany

Apr 28, 2023

Author: Tommaso Trinchetti (University of Pisa)

Tuscany, like many other regions in Italy, has significant differences between highly populated plains and coasts with productive activities, and marginalised hills and mountains with forests and rich biodiversity. The latter areas preserve natural, social, and cultural heritage that must be protected for local well-being and regional sustainability.

Ecosystem services are defined as the direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to our well-being, including carbon sequestration, maintenance of biodiversity, and landscape. ecosystem services are essential for ensuring water availability, and quality, and mitigating drought risks, particularly in mountainous rural areas.

Increasingly used worldwide, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) financially support land and water management by local actors to generate ecosystem services. These are policy tools or private contracts for remunerating actors who preserve and improve the local ecosystems, therefore achieving environmental and social objectives such as sustainable resource management, employment, and quality of life for mountain communities.

Recent research aims to promote new territorial governance models based on PES recognition in Tuscany’s mountain areas through pilot applications in Mount Amiata and Mugello. PES implementation requires multi-sector collaboration, detailed accounting, and the use of the System of Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) at the municipal level. SEEA EA evaluates ecosystems’ conditions before ecosystem services, considering their integrity and value to humans.

The recognition of the PES requires users and producers of ecosystem services to define objectives, evaluate possibilities, define roles, and responsibilities, draw up technical specifications, and formalise a contract. The research results are part of an ongoing dialogue with the Tuscany Region to enhance mountain territories and communities. Engaging and rewarding people to develop the accounting and assessment system as a basis for governance strategies and PES contracts is crucial. To be effective, different perspectives, needs, and interests that people have with regard to the production/reproduction and use of natural capital must be integrated.

You can also read this blog article here.