Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - Geographisches Institut


Doctoral project: Collective Payments for Ecosystem Services and the Role of Commodification and Land Tenure for their Success

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) gained an increasing importance in science and politics within the last decades. While the enthusiasm about PES is particularly high in Environmental Economics, opponents criticize the market-based character of PES and the associated commodification as well as privatization trends. This doctoral project aims at broadening the focus on PES by evaluating the potentials and challenges of linking local and commonly hold property rights with the PES approach, building also on theories of Elinor Ostrom about the successful governance of commons (Ostrom 1990). Various examples of PES programs implemented on common land show that property rights do not have to be privately held to make a PES project work. In the literature, such PES arrangements are often referred to as community-based or collective PES (C-PES). The main focus is on the potentials and challenges of C-PES in contrast to payments given to private-individual landowners (P-PES), while shedding light into the complex and controversial debate about the role of property rights as well as of commodification trends for the effectiveness of PES. The following overarching research questions guide this doctoral thesis:

  • What is the current state of the scientific debates around the role of commodification tendencies and land-related property rights for the effectiveness of PES and which particular role does C-PES programs play in this context?
  • Which global patterns of C-PES programs can be observed and how strongly commodified are the targeted ES, also in comparison to P-PES programs?
  • What are the potentials of PES programs targeting common land tenure structures instead of private property structures?

The study uses different method approaches auch as systematic literature reviews, expert interviews, and case studies.