A Collaborative Approach

Members of the FRESP team.
Members of the FRESP team.

Designing a market-like initiative such as the NE-PES program requires identifying and reaching agreement on numerous design elements of concern to buyers, sellers and the public. These include issues such as environmental service definition, contract structure, service verification and payment system. No single individual, stakeholder group or agency of government had all the expertise, time, resources, foresight, and credibility to identify and address these issues on its own. It was essential that there be an on-going and trusted process inside which the buyer and seller and other interested parties representing different perspectives and expertise could discuss and agree on each of the PES design elements.

The FRESP collaboration was that process. In 2005 a group of ranchers, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to design a PES program. This core team, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) worked together to implement all aspect of the FRESP pilot phase.

The eight ranchers—FRESP’s "environmental pioneers"—provided the living laboratory for field-testing PES design elements and proof of concept for the dispersed water management concept. Researchers and scientists from Archbold Biological Station, the MacArthrur Agro-Ecology Research Station, and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida (IFAS) formed the FRESP Documentation Team.

FRESP field day.
FRESP field day.

During the pilot phase, three full-time staff collected and managed the data monitoring and collection process for the eight ranch pilot sites. Most importantly, a strong commitment to the FRESP process and in-kind support from the staff of SFWMD, FDACS, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and USDA NRCS was essential to the success of FRESP.

Keeping the collaboration process active on a daily basis and assuring that the process was always perceived as a neutral forum for presenting different points of view and finding common ground was the responsibility of World Wildlife Fund with the support of Resources for the Future. The two organizations provided overall project management for FRESP during the 6 year pilot. Essential activities included consultant contractor oversight, maintaining communication between partners, fundraising, outreach and consensus building for the FRESP collaboration’s design of a preferred PES program, which has become the NE-PES program.

For information on the Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project contact: Sarah Lynch at (202) 495-4781 or by email at sarah.lynch@wwfus.org or Len Shabman at (202) 328-5139 or by email at shabman@rff.org.

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