Multi-Targeted payments for the balanced management of hydrological and other forest ecosystem services

Heidi Asbjornsen, Yanhui Wang, David Ellison, Catherine M. Ashcraft, Shady S. Atallah, Kelly Jones, Alex Mayer, Monica Altamirano, Pengtao Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Societal demand for vitally important hydrological and other forest ecosystem services (FES) has been rapidly increasing due to accelerating socioeconomic development and global change. Combined with growing threats of water insecurity, complex forest-water interactions are especially challenging to address given the trade-offs among competing FES (e.g., water yield vs carbon sequestration, or biomass production vs biodiversity conservation). The concept of balanced forest ecosystem service management (BFESM) offers a strategy for optimizing the production of multiple FES to meet societal demand and ensure ecological integrity in ways that harmonize both the synergies and tradeoffs across desired FES and the differing and often conflicting needs and priorities of diverse stakeholders. Better understanding the complex and often nonlinear interactions among different FES and how these vary across spatial and temporal scales and different site contexts is critical to developing BFESM strategies. Moreover, the often sharply contrasting FES needs and priorities of different societal groups or stakeholders must be considered in conjunction with information about FES trade-offs. Policy strategies that introduce compensation mechanisms to account for the public good and non-market nature of many highly valued FES (e.g., clean and plentiful water supply, climate regulation) such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), are increasingly being used to foster FES stewardship, yet transitioning from the conventional single FES towards multi-targeted PES (MTPES) approaches could greatly improve the effectiveness of PES schemes. Here, we present five guiding principles of BFESM and discuss the opportunities and challenges of designing effective MTPES policy frameworks. Building on the strengths of each, we then propose an integrated BFESM-MTPES framework for balancing the biophysical understanding of complex synergies and tradeoffs across the target FES with the demands and interests of diverse stakeholders. We then discuss specific tools for developing a decision support framework that better integrates and informs strategies for managing forest-water interactions and other FES to achieve BFESM-MTPES goals based on innovative, science-based approaches. We conclude by highlighting key future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120482
JournalForest Ecology and Management
StatePublished - Oct 15 2022


  • Balanced management of forest ecosystem
  • Forest ecosystem service
  • Payments for ecosystem services
  • Supply and demand
  • Trade-offs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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