Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab

Long-Term Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship Technologies


A new report has been published exploring land manager views of the concept of payments for ecosystem services, land manager networks and social learning amongst woodland owners and managers in England. The work, led by Forest Research was an extension of British Woodlands Survey 2017, led by Sylva Foundation in collaboration with OxLEL, the Woodland Trust and Forest Research. The main findings were that many land managers were not familiar with the term ecosystem services or the concept of payments for ecosystem services. However, they did often recognise that their woodlands could provide a range of benefits to society. Quantifying forest services and benefits was thought to be particularly difficult in considering the design of any schemes that might provide payment for these services and benefits.
The research identified key formal and informal networks of importance:

  • Networks related to place – those in land managers immediate locality.
  • Networks related to woodland management and associated institutions  – land managers gravitate towards those organisations whose mission most closely matches their own objectives.
  • Networks related to social and personal identity – reflecting land managers own social connections, beliefs and values.

The three mechanisms (PES, networks and social learning) outlined in the research could be helpful approaches used to encourage greater woodland management and woodland creation and the delivery of forest ecosystem services; can be considered independently or in varying combinations as part of a multi-faceted approach to the delivery of ecosystem services; and can be combined with other mechanisms including regulation and certification schemes to provide land managers with a mix of options through which they can be supported to carry out sustainable forest management, provide a range of forest ecosystem services, manage and create new woodlands.

Report citation: O’Brien, L. Ambrose-Oji, B. Hemery, G. Petrokofsky, G. Raum, S. 2018. Payments for ecosystem services, land manager networks and social learning.(pdf) Forest Research, Farnham.

Funding for the report came from Forest Research.

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