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How Can Market Mechanisms for Forest Environmental Services Help the Poor? Preliminary Lessons from Latin America

Maryanne Grieg-Gran*
International Institute for Environment and Development, London, UK

Ina Porras
International Institute for Environment and Development, Edinburgh, UK

Sven Wunder
Center for International Forestry Research, Belém, Pará, Brazil


Market mechanisms for forest environmental services are a new approach for conservation but there is also increasing interest in the derived developmental benefits of these mechanisms. We first propose a conceptual framework for future research on the livelihood impacts of environmental service markets. We then review eight Latin American case studies on carbon sequestration and watershed protection market initiatives, finding positive local income effects in most cases, more land tenure security and socio-institutional strengthening in some cases, but some negative effects also. We recommend pro-poor policy measures such as reducing smallholders’ transaction costs, and removing inappropriate access restrictions.

Keywords: forests, environmental services, market mechanisms, livelihoods, conservation, poverty.

Published in World Development, vol 33, no 9, pp.1511-1527 (for more information about this work, pls contact the journal, or