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Valuing Europe’s forests and paying for ecosystem services contribute to a Green Economy

During European Forest Week (9-13 December 2013), three UN agencies called upon governments to consider scaling up payments to European forest owners for serving as stewards for these valuable resources, although they said such payments should be complementary to government legislation, regulation or democratic accountability.


On 10 December, UNEP, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a joint report calling for the payment of ecosystem services (PES) to be used as a tool to “complement” government measures to manage Europe’s forest ecosystems in a sustainable manner.


The report, “The value of forests: Payment for ecosystem services in a green economy”, said payment for ecosystem services is an incentive for public and private partners to protect key forest areas, but it still requires the appropriate legislative framework to be cost-effective.


Highlighting the indisputable benefits derived from Europe’s forests - such as clean air, fresh water, food, medicine and shelter - the report examines how paying foresters for these benefits can promote rural development and ensure that rural populations maintain their incomes and livelihoods. It also fits within the proposed ECE/FAO Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy.


PES mechanisms encompass a range of measures to ensure that as forest resources are used by different sectors, incentives are available for users and suppliers alike to help keep these resources healthy and productive.


The report cites the example of Coca-Cola® bottling plant at the Tagua Reservoir, Portugal, which has agreed to pay local forest owners to maintain their forests, which help filter and protect this resource so the bottling plant has access to pure water. This successful example is the kind of winwin solution that PES can provide.

More information here.

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