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Integrating ecosystem markets to co-ordinate landscape-scale public benefits from nature

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark Reed, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Dr Helen Kendall, Emeritus Professor Christopher Rodgers



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Ecosystem markets are proliferating around the world in response to increasing demand for climate change mitigation and provision of other public goods. However, this may lead to perverse outcomes, for example where public funding crowds out private investment or different schemes create trade-offs between the ecosystem services they each target. The integration of ecosystem markets could address some of these issues but to date there have been few attempts to do this, and there is limited understanding of either the opportunities or barriers to such integration. This paper reports on a comparative analysis of eleven ecosystem markets in operation or close to market in Europe, based on qualitative analysis of 25 interviews, scheme documentation and two focus groups. Our results indicate three distinct types of markets operating from the regional to national scale, with different modes of operation, funding and outcomes: regional ecosystem markets, national carbon markets and green finance. The typology provides new insights into the operation of ecosystem markets in practice, which may challenge traditionally held notions of Payment for Ecosystem Services. Regional ecosystem markets, in particular, represent a departure from traditional models, by using a risk-based funding model and aggregating both supply and demand to overcome issues of free-riding, ecosystem service trade-offs and land manager engagement. Central to all types of market were trusted intermediaries, brokers and platforms to aggregate supply and demand, build trust and lower transaction costs. The paper outlines six options for blending public and private funding for the provision of ecosystem services and proposes a framework for integrating national carbon markets and green finance with regional ecosystem markets. Such integration may significantly increase funding for regenerative agriculture and conservation across multiple habitats and services, whilst addressing issues of additionality and ecosystem service trade-offs between multiple schemes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Reed MS, Curtis T, Gosal A, Kendall H, Andersen SP, Ziv G, Atlee A, Fitton R, Hay M, Gibson AC, Hume AC, Hill D, Mansfield J, Martino S, Olesen AS, Prior S, Rodgers C, Rudman H, Tanneberger F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2022

Volume: 17

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 12/01/2022

Acceptance date: 25/08/2021

Date deposited: 20/06/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258334


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Funder referenceFunder name
British Academy (grant KF5210311)
BB/R005680/1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action (contract 340201/2018/789608/ETU/CLIMA.C.3)
NatureScot (Project No. 117832)