Forest ecosystem services: can they pay our way out of deforestation?

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This paper first provides a brief overview of what are and what represent forest ecosystem services. Then it considers the issues of price and valuation, and shows that valuation itself is not a solution but merely a tool. Considering then the reasons of the overall degradation of forest ecosystem services it shows that the main reasons tend to be fundamental: deforestation most often happens because it pays for local people - not so much because the institutionally created arrangements are perverse. This paper concludes that if national, regional and global "off-site" beneficiaries can increasingly "pay their way out" of the actual vicious circle, there will be more scope for optimism regarding the conservation of forests and their services to mankind throughout the world.

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