March 14, 2018

WELL, GOOD: Study shows market-based strategies for ecosystem conservation are surging.

Malaysia provides one example of how payment for ecosystem services programs work, Salzman said. The state of Sabah worked with private parties to restore and maintain 131 square miles of rainforest, home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of orangutans. The program sells “biodiversity conservation certificates,” each representing 100 square meters of forest restoration and protection for at least 50 years.

Little more than an idea a few years ago, payments for ecosystem services has grown into a large and expanding market, according to the study, which found that more than 550 programs active worldwide, in both developed and developing countries, with more than $36 billion in annual transactions.

“There has been enormous interest around the globe in payments for ecosystem services, fueled by promising case studies and exciting transactions, but until now we’ve never had a firm grasp on just how large they have really become,” Salzman said. “Payments for ecosystem services is a market-based approach that places a value on the many benefits that nature provides to people—clean water, flood control and wildlife habitat. Done right, trees can be worth more standing than cut down.”

Incentivizing works better than bureaucratizing.