The Value of Forests

Payments for Ecosystem Services for a Green Economy

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Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) describes the situation where the user of an environmental service, such as water purification, pays the landowners who provide that service. For PES to exist, there must be a clearly defined user and supplier, as well as a number of other necessary conditions, which are defined in this document using a summary of current sources. Particular attention is paid to how these conditions currently obtain within the UNECE region. The range of forest environment services is explored through fourteen detailed case studies, which examine best practice in promoting PES. Political and public relations implications of PES are discussed at length, and recommendations include the need for clarity about where PES may be a useful tool in moving towards a green economy and where other methods may be more appropriate.




What is the value of sitting under a forest tree’s shade, and enjoying a cool drink of water or lunch? What is the value of a vista of a pristine grove of conifers or a stand of hardwood trees in full autumn colour? And how do we place a value on wildlife habitat; protection from floods, landslides, avalanches; and perhaps most important of all, clean water, air and climate? Our forests provide many critical services to humanity. We have long valued the forest for things that have very tangible monetary worth, such as wood and wood products, but we have not been able to demonstrate and capture the values of its services that are difficult to measure or even priceless.


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