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Modeling Social-Ecological Feedback Effects in the Implementation of Payments for Environmental Services in Pasture-Woodlands

Robert Huber, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
Simon Briner, ETH Zurich, Agri-food and Agri-environmental Economics Group, Department of Environmental Systems Science
Alexander Peringer, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC, Laboratory of ecological systems ECOS; University of Stuttgart, Institute of Landscape Planning and Ecology ILPOE
Stefan Lauber, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
Roman Seidl, ETH Zurich, Natural and Social Science Interface, Department of Environmental Systems Science
Alexander Widmer, ETH Zurich, Environmental Policy and Economics, Department of Environmental Systems Science
François Gillet, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC, Laboratory of ecological systems ECOS; Université de Franche-Comté-CNRS, UMR 6249 Chrono-environnement
Alexandre Buttler, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC, Laboratory of ecological systems ECOS; Université de Franche-Comté-CNRS, UMR 6249 Chrono-environnement
Quang Bao Le, ETH Zurich, Natural and Social Science Interface, Department of Environmental Systems Science
Christian Hirschi, ETH Zurich, Environmental Policy and Economics, Department of Environmental Systems Science

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05487-180241

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Abstract

An effective implementation of payment for environmental services (PES) must allow for complex interactions of coupled social-ecological systems. We present an integrative study of the pasture-woodland landscape of the Swiss Jura Mountains combining methods from natural and social sciences to explore feedback between vegetation dynamics on paddock level, farm-based decision making, and policy decisions on the national political level. Our modeling results show that concomitant climatic and socioeconomic changes advance the loss of open grassland in silvopastoral landscapes. This would, in the longer term, deteriorate the historical wooded pastures in the region, which fulfill important functions for biodiversity and are widely considered as landscapes that deserve protection. Payment for environmental services could counteract this development while respecting historical land-use and ecological boundary conditions. The assessed policy feedback process reveals that current policy processes may hinder the implementation of PES, even though a payment for the upkeep of wooded pasture would generally enjoy the backing of the relevant policy network. To effectively support the upkeep of the wooded pastures in the Jura, concomitant policy changes, such as market deregulation, must also be taken into account.

Key words

agent-based modeling; dynamic modeling; feedback; human-environment systems; integrated study; payments for environmental services; policy network analysis
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087