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"Decentralizing Payments for Ecosystem Services Programs on Coupled Human and Natural Systems in Mexico " by Mariana Nava, LASP Seminar VIDEO Recording, Oct 31 2016



Use of payments for watershed services (PWS) programs as a policy tool for enhancing water quality and supply has gained momentum in recent years. One of the oldest PWS programs, Mexico’s Federal Payment for Hydrological Service (PHS) was initiated in 2003 by the National Forestry Commission as a government-financed program. It was envisioned as a mechanism for providing financial incentives to land owners to conserve their forest cover in key watersheds identified on the basis of the presence of priority ecosystems. In 2008, an additional mechanism was created by the government to transition from the national program funded by the government to a local program funded by the government in combination with the private sector. With this new scheme, the Matching Program, Mexico wanted to evolve from a government-financed to a user-financed PES program, by creating a more direct link between water users and providers and by fostering local participation in the creation, design and implementation of PHS programs. Based on two case studies in Veracruz, Mexico, and informant interviews with institutional actors, this research examines whether and to what extent community participation of both service providers and service users has been fostered in local matching programs in Mexico, as a way of understanding challenges faced by each program and possible solutions.

Brief biography

Dr. Mariana Zareth Nava-Lopez is a research scientist at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). She graduated from the Faculty of Science of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where she studied Biology and earned a master’s degree in Restoration Ecology. From 2006 to 2009, she was a professor at UNAM teaching Natural Resources courses covering topics relevant for the understanding of current global environment issues. During this same period, she worked at the Mountain Ecosystems Laboratory of the Faculty of Science at UNAM, where she carried out interdisciplinary research in Ecosystems Management and Human Development in socio-ecological systems near Mexico City. In 2016, she completed her PhD in Environmental Science at SUNY-ESF, where she worked on determining the spatial patterns and most influential factors in the provision of water quality and related-ecosystem services in a periurban watershed of the Mexico Basin. Since 2014, she has been collaborating as a research scientist at SUNY-ESF on projects aimed at the understanding of hydrological ecosystem services. These projects range from the biophysical generation of ecosystem services and the environmental processes that play a key role in their provision, to methods such as mapping of ecosystem services and voluntary payment mechanisms that should be used to prioritize their conservation. It is her hope that a better understanding of these factors will help maximize the provision of ecosystem services while contributing to a high-level of environmental and human well-being.