ITTO Tropical Forest Update 23- Number 1: International Forum on Payments for Environmental Services of Tropical Forests


In this Edition: Paying our dues - OPENING CEREMONY– Session 1: PES for sustainable forest management - Session 2: Developing innovative financing mechanisms - Session 3: Ensuring benefits for local communities - Session 4: Establishing robust governance and institutional arrangements - Key messages, summary and recommendations... The international forum explored how payments for the environmental services provided by tropical forests can support forest owners and managers to increase incomes and manage forests sustainably...



Key messages


1. Forests provide critical environmental services. Tropical forests, in particular, are giant carbon dioxide “vacuum cleaners” and manufacturers of renewable biomass, and they also protect vital water catchments, harbour a large part of terrestrial biodiversity and help regulate regional climates.


2. Many users of tropical forest environmental services pay little or nothing for them. The absence of adequate payments for environmental services increases the vulnerability of many tropical forests to degradation and conversion to more profitable land uses.

3. There are now many successful examples of schemes to compensate tropical forest owners and managers for environmental services. Some of these PES schemes are national, but most are still at a relatively small scale.

4. By providing forest owners and managers with income and increasing the economic competitiveness of SFM, PES schemes can help alleviate rural poverty, reduce tropical deforestation, stimulate the rehabilitation of degraded forestlands, and increase the adoption of SFM.

5. Overall, however, PES schemes are not having the desired impacts in the vast majority of tropical forests that are vulnerable to deforestation and degradation, and they are benefiting only a few of the many millions of forest peoples and other owners and managers. Action is needed, therefore, to scale up PES.

6. Currently there are more sellers than buyers of the environmental services provided by tropical forests. There is a need to increase demand, develop formal markets with the engagement of the private sector, and increase the availability of secure, sustainable financing by creating an enabling environment.

7. Indigenous peoples, local communities and private forest owners should be able to participate in schemes to pay for tropical forest environmental services as entrepreneurs rather than simply as passive receivers of compensation. PES schemes should promote gender equality, ensure the participation of all stakeholders and encourage employment creation, especially among young people.

8. To be successful and sustainable, PES schemes should use inclusive processes and sustainable practices, be transparent and accountable, and have robust and transparent institutional frameworks and enabling policies, and their benefits should be accounted for.

9. Forum participants agreed on the need to:

––Better quantify and value the environmental services provided by tropical forests through scientifically sound studies with the aim of increasing the effectiveness of PES schemes.

––Work together to raise awareness of the importance of environmental services, the role of tropical forests in providing such services, and the necessity of paying for such services.

––Create enabling conditions at all levels to increase demand and develop markets for PES.

––Increase collaboration and exchange on PES experiences, options and support for scaling them up, including through south–south and triangular cooperation and by tapping the convening power of international organizations such as ITTO

and FAO.


Summary and recommendations

This international forum explored how payments for the environmental services provided by tropical forests can support forest owners and managers to increase incomes and manage forests sustainably.

Costa Rica hosted the forum because of its ground-breaking experiences in innovative payments for environmental services. The forum was co-organized by ITTO, FAO and FONAFIFO. More than 150 people from 60 countries attended from governments, regional and international development partners, civil-society organizations and the private sector. The following is a summary of the key points raised in presentations, background materials and discussions, and of the recommendations that emerged.


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Images credits: TFU- Number 23/ 1: (1) Emmanuel Ze Meka speaks at the opening ceremony of the International Forum on Payments for Environmental Services of Tropical Forests. Photo: H.O. Ma/ITTO (2)  Eduardo Roj_a_s_ _B_r_i_a_l_e_s_ _(_l_e_f_t_)_ _a_t_ _t_h_e_ _o_p_e_n_i_n_g_ _c_e_r_e_m_o_n_y_ _o_f_ _t_h_e_ _I_n_t_e_r_n_a_t_i_o_n_a_l_ _F_o_r_u_m_ _o_n_ _P_a_y_m_e_n_t_s_ _f_o_r_ _E_n_v_i_r_o_n_m_e_n_t_a_l_ _S_e_r_v_i_c_e_s_ _i_n_ _T_r_o_p_i_c_a_l_ _F_o_r_e_s_t_s_ _w_i_t_h_ _R_e_n_é _C_a_s_t_r_o_ _a_n_d_ _E_m_m_a_n_u_e_l_ _Z_e_ _M_e_k_a_._Photo: H.O. Ma/ITTO




Content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITTO. ITTO holds the copyright to all photos unless otherwise stated. Articles may be reprinted without charge providing the ITTO Tropical Forest Update and author are credited and the editor notified ( 

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