"Deforestation in the Himalayas blamed for killer flood" - headlines such as this one from August 2000 suggest that upstream land use practices have important impacts on water resources and affect the people downstream at a watershed scale. Payments by downstream people to upstream people for "environmental services" such as good water quality, less sediments or more regular water flow are widely discussed. However, much controversy exists about the direction and magnitude of such impacts, how they influence the relation was between upstream and downstream people, and if cooperation mechanisms are feasible which allow for a sharing of the resulting benefits and costs by all resource users in rural watersheds.
To address these issues, the FAO Land and Water Development Division organized the electronic workshop "Land - Water Linkages in Rural Watersheds" during September and October 2000. About 470 people from all over the world subscribed to this electronic forum. Discussions were grouped around three main questions:
1. What are the biophysical impacts of upstream land uses on downstream water resources in rural watersheds?
2. How can these impacts be valued in terms of benefits and costs to downstream people?
3. Which mechanisms can be identified to share these benefits and costs among upstream and downstream land and water users?
The present volume contains an analytic summary of the workshop discussions as well as two discussion papers prepared for the workshop on the basis of a literature review. In keeping with the electronic character of the workshop, the complete materials are included on the CD-ROM that accompanies this document.
It is hoped that the wealth of information supplied here will shed some light on the issues surrounding the provision of water-related environmental services by upstream land management activities.