Well-managed watersheds provide valuable services to downstream residents, such as an adequate supply of good quality water. These services are in jeopardy if land, in upstream areas, is poorly managed. This can have serious impacts and cost for downstream water users. Until recently, society has expected farmers to protect critical watersheds without any form of compensation for the services they provide and the costs they face. Payments for watershed services are mechanisms that aim to compensate land-users and owners for the services that they can provide. New York City is assisting farmers to change their landuse. By doing so, it has avoided the cost of constructing a massive water purification plant. Implementing similar changes in developing countries is extremely challenging. ‘Shed Loads’ looks at the potential and problems for payments for watershed services in South Africa, India and Bolivia.
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