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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Projects | IRI THESys | Research | Research Groups | Transformations of Land-Water-Systems | Payments for Watershed Services mechanisms in Colombia

Evaluating the effectiveness and uncertainties of the Payments for Watershed Services mechanisms in Colombia

Letícia Santos de Lima is a doctoral researcher at IRI THESys, funded by the Brazilian agency CNPq through "Science without borders", a mobility program initiated by Brazil's federal government to send researchers abroad. Her main research interests include ecosystem services, land use changes and river basin management.



Watershed ecosystems provide a number of essential services to society regarding to the availability and quality of water resources and other benefits related to them. In order to guarantee the continuity of these natural services that are so strategic to society it is necessary to secure their conservation through land use planning, correct agricultural management, and protecting vegetation. Among a variety of watershed conservation strategies, there are the payments for ecosystem services, in special, the Payments for Watershed Services - PWS. Those strategies, in general, consist of financial mechanisms in the form of payments to landowners located upstream of the basin to preserve strategic areas and to restore other ones in order to maintain or provide water quality and quantity for downstream water users. These mechanisms include the adoption of soil management and forest recovery practices and changes in local economic activities to less environmentally harmful ones aiming at reducing local erosion and water pollution, while maintaining the water balance. Most of these initiatives are implemented in the form of local public-private partnerships involving major water users (e.g. water supply agencies and industries), local governments, civil associations and non-governmental organizations.

Despite worldwide acknowledgment of the PWS mechanisms, there is still a lack of literature on monitoring and evaluation practices adopted and analysis of effectiveness and potential uncertainties over the benefits obtained versus actions undertaken (Postel and Thompson, 2005). Insufficient technical and practical criteria on those issues could be one of the barriers for the long-term sustainability of these practices and to establishing and regulating national policies on payments for ecosystem services.

With a general approach to Latin America and case studies in Colombia the present project proposal aims at answering a clearly identified demand in the context of PWS projects: the need for the development of monitoring and evaluation methods that could depict the effectiveness and uncertainties associated with these mechanisms.

Visit Letícia Lima's blog documenting her field work: "Connection 3B: Brazil, Berlin, Bogotá"

Research Group: Transformations and uncertainties of land-water systems

Letícia Santos de Lima
Photo: Anne Dombrowski



Letícia Lima, RG Doctoral Researcher
Phone: +49 (030) 2093-66326
E-Mail: leticia.lima@hu-berlin.de