Forests are commonly known for the goods that they provide - timber, fuelwood, fodder and other non-timber forest products. Less commonly known is the fact that forests also provide a number of crucial ecosystem services, for example, their role in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, protecting upstream watersheds, conserving biodiversity and gene-pools for future generations and in providing landscape beauty.
About Forest Environmental Services
ITTO Biodiversity Guidelines tested in Production Forest in Cameroon
Photo: Agni Boedhihartono / IUCN
One reason for this is the failure of markets, and society in general, to adequately value these services in economic or financial terms. Consequently, forest environmental services are rarely accounted for in national GDP statistics and few well-developed markets exist for them. However, today there is growing awareness of the need to adequately acknowledge and measure the value of these services, so that decisions involving forest land use change are based on the true worth of forests, rather than on the immediate tangible goods that they provide. There is also an urgent need to develop appropriate mechanisms, market-based or otherwise, that can generate income flows to communities or institutions protecting forests and providing these services, so that there is a direct incentive for them to continue doing so.
|Valuation and incentives|