Evaluation of the upland ecosystem service pilots: Annex 2. South West uplands.
This report presents the findings from an evaluation of the South West Uplands (England, UK) pilot project. The pilots were innovative in nature and were intended: to provide practical examples demonstrating how the ecosystem approach could be applied on the ground; to use a consultative ecosystem approach to define land and water management based upon stakeholders perceptions of the best options; to demonstrate that investment in the natural environment can result in multiple benefits (carbon, water, food, biodiversity, recreational and landscape benefits); and to work in partnership to deliver a range of ecosystem services in a cost-effective way and link these services to the beneficiaries. The research evaluation included a review of project documentation and a series of in-depth interviews with ten individuals involved in the pilot (at the local level) and four Natural England staff involved in the management of the overall upland ecosystem services pilot programme between the summer of 2009 and March 2011. The pilot was beset by delays and significant practical activity only appears to have been initiated following a meeting in June 2010; by which point the pilot was almost halfway through its planned lifespan. Although, the pilot was able to secure engagement with a number of stakeholder organisations, it is clear that participants found it difficult to develop a functional partnership, and this was a major source of delay in the project. The valuation work, along with all other pilot activity, was subject to significant delay and did not commence until after June 2010. The pilot did not progress to the stage of securing changes in land management designed to enhance the delivery of ecosystem services.