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Certification of Protected Areas (CERPA)

CERPA evaluates international markets for Protected Area certificates and their socio-economic implications – the example of wetlands in sub-Saharan Africa

The ecosystems of our planet are rapidly depleted and destroyed by human activities. Climate change, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and wetland destruction have become major environmental issues that increasingly negatively impact on peoples’ livelihoods and socio-economic future development.

The designation of areas as ‘environmentally protected’ is one widely used instrument to mitigate or reverse these environmental problems. However, many protected areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are poorly managed and underfinanced. More recently Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and international market-based systems such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) or the Green Development Initiative (GDI) have become other prominent instruments against environmental destruction. The necessary market structures for PES, however, are not yet fully established and many of these projects are still in their pilot phase depending on public and multilateral funding.

The goal of the CERPA research project is to evaluate the practicability of international markets for protected area certificates, hence to investigate innovative combinations of ‘protected area approaches’ and ‘PES approaches’. To achieve this, it will be tested which role market-based instruments can have within a multi-level governance system, and which institutional changes are required for their introduction, maintenance and integrity.

The evaluation of international markets for protected area certificates requires interdisciplinary approaches and integrated information systems. Together with our international partners we will hence employ New Institutional Economics (NIE) as a theoretical foundation and combine a set of different methods, such as choice experiments, role playing games, economic and hydrological simulation modeling and expert interviews.

Local case studies in Tanzania and Namibia will provide an understanding of the supply side for protected area certificates. Willingness to Invest (WTI) and Willingness to Pay (WTP) studies in Germany, Spain and Sweden will generate evidence of the potential demand for such certificates. In this context, the project will also evaluate possibilities to better combine instruments for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation.