On the Ground
The Northern Everglades Payment for Environmental Services (NE-PES) Program implemented by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is a unique example of an operating market-like payment for environmental services program on working ranchlands.
The SFWMD enters into 10-year contracts to pay ranchers who dedicate parts of their ranch to providing water retention or nutrient removal services.
NE-PES monitoring procedures were designed to assure that water was managed as agreed to in the contracts and annual payments only were made if contract terms were honored.
Key challenges to the design of monitoring procedures were that the protocol must 1) satisfy the buyer that they were getting the services they paid for, 2) assure the sellers that the services they provide are being fairly assessed, and 3) be feasible to administer over a large number of ranches in an expansive working agricultural landscape.