Payments for ecosystem services: neoliberalisation, and the hybrid governance of land management in Australia

Higgins, Vaughan, Dibden, Jacqui, Potter, Clive, Moon, Katie, and Cocklin, Chris (2014) Payments for ecosystem services: neoliberalisation, and the hybrid governance of land management in Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 36. pp. 463-474.

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Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are seen by many as one of the defining projects of a more neoliberalised approach to environmental governance. In practice, however, many PES schemes are hybrid constructions, depending on a mix of market and non-market policy instruments and the involvement of state as well as non-state actors to achieve changes in environmental practice on the ground. In this paper we provide insights into how and why hybrid forms of governance enable PES schemes to be workable in practice, and the implications of these arrangements for the neoliberalisation of rural environments and subjects. Focussing on the hybrid governance strategies of institutional blending and contextual adaptation, we examine two PES schemes in the State of Queensland, Australia. Conserving native vegetation and protecting the Great Barrier Reef respectively, these programmes have used PES as part of a suite of initiatives to achieve improvements in the environmental practices of beef producers. Our analysis reveals that institutional blending and contextual adaptation were crucial in building trust between landholders, farming organisations and those agencies responsible for delivering schemes; enabling the alignment of PES with existing mechanisms of governing, such as regulation and extension; meeting the outcomes required by government funding agencies, often in a short timeframe; improving the targeting of specific land types or landholders; improving the quantity and quality of funding applications; and overcoming fears about perceived threats to private property rights. While these strategies were important in making each PES scheme workable, the use of non-market instruments of regulation and extension compromised the application of neoliberal policy prescriptions to rural environments. However, we argue also that these same instruments contributed to and reinforced the construction of neoliberal landholder subjectivities.

Item ID: 36982
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-1392
Keywords: hybrid governance, neoliberalisation of nature, payments for ecosystem services, rural natural resource management, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Project DP1092534
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2015 23:31
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 34%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160401 Economic Geography @ 33%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development @ 33%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960601 Economic Incentives for Environmental Protection @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960705 Rural Land Policy @ 15%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960605 Institutional Arrangements for Environmental Protection @ 15%
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