Sacred Fir Abies religiosa forest with Monarch Butterflies. hspauldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

This article was originally published on The World Bank


Forested land provides a wide variety of benefits: they regulate water flows, sequester carbon, and harbor biodiversity. But farm communities receive few of these benefits. For them, forested lands mean some fuelwood, timber, perhaps some fruit — benefits that are much lower than those they could get by cutting the trees down and cultivating the land or using it for pasture. It’s not surprising, then, that many of them choose to do so, resulting in high rates of deforestation throughout the world.

Efforts to halt this trend have usually focused on regulations banning deforestation. These efforts have not worked. This is not surprising. Farm communities would give up a lot of potential income by conserving forests and receive few of the environmental benefits.

In recent years, a new approach has been tried. Instead of trying to force farm communities to conserve forests, they are being paid for the environmental services they provide by doing so.  This Payments for Environmental Services (PES) approach was pioneered by Costa Rica and has become particularly common in Latin America.

Mexico has the largest such program in the region, with over 2 million hectares of forest receiving conservation payments. The program, which is administered by the National Forest Commission (CONAFOR), pays forest communities $10-$40 per hectare per year to conserve forests, depending on the type of forest and the risk of deforestation…”

Read on at: The World Bank.