Defra payments for ecosystem services pilot projects

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) is a term for schemes through which the beneficiaries, or users, of ecosystem services provide payment to the stewards, or providers of those services.  See more about PES.

Between 2011 and 2015, Defra funded three rounds of pilot projects exploring the potential for PES across England and Wales.  They are listed below, with links to the final reports.  Defra has published a summary of the findings from the 16 pilot projects.

Defra has also produced a summary table of the pilots, summarising them according to criteria such as funding mechanism and types of intermediary.  

Lowland river catchment focus

  • Developing catchment based approach to reduce flooding in the Winford Brook Catchment, South Bristol.
  • Investigating PES approaches to natural flood management and other benefits on and around the Holnicote Estate, Somerset.

Urban focus

  • Researching a pracical PES scheme in North Hull.
  • The Canal and River Trust, in particular the Leeds-Liverpool corridor.
  • Applying payments for ecosystem services in Luton.

  • Irwell Catchment, Greater Manchester - identifying practical ways to deliver new investment in the natural environment in Greater Manchester (report pending).

Upland focus

  • The Pumlumon Project in the Cambrian mountains led by the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust
  • Developing a UK Peatland Carbon Code to give business the confidence to invest in the restoration and protection of damaged peatlands across the UK.
  • Developing place based approaches for PES in the English Uplands.

Other thematic / geographical focus

  • Applying payments for ecosystem services in the Cotswolds.
  • Investigating the potential for PES to extend visitor payback schemes.
  • Energy For Nature - Somerset levels – RSPB project using surplus biomass from habitat management for renewable energy generation.  
  • Smithills Estate, Bolton - exploring the potential for PES on a Woodland Trust upland fringe estate. 

Most of the Round 1 and 2 projects were presented at Ecosystems Knowledge Network workshops on payments for ecosystem services in Bristol and Manchester in 2013. The Energy for Nature pilot project was the subject of a Ecosystems Knowledge Network workshop and field visit held in Somerset in 2016.