Forum to promote payments for environmental services kicks off in Costa Rica

7 April 2014

ITTO Executive Director Emmanuel ZeMeka opening the Forum. Photo: H.O. Ma/ITTO

Nearly 150 participants from about 60 countries are gathered here this week to discuss the contribution of payments for environmental services (PES) to the sustainable management of tropical forests. This International Forum on Payments for Environmental Services from Tropical Forests will allow participants to share experiences on the implementation of PES schemes and to make proposals for scaling them up in order to realize their potential contribution to sustainable development. The Forum was convened by ITTO in partnership with the FAO Forestry Department and the Government of Costa Rica.
PES have been promoted over the past decade as a means of broadening the sources of income available for sustainable forest management (SFM), particularly in the tropics, where resource constraints are an ongoing and widespread problem. Nascent national, regional and international markets for services like carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, watershed protection and soil conservation have provided hope that the revenue streams generated by PES can supplement or even exceed those produced by more traditional forest activities such as timber extraction. Such markets remain, however, mostly small and fragmented, so there is a compelling need to widen their scope so that more people in tropical countries can share in the many benefits derived from their forests.
ITTO has been a strong proponent of PES as a tool for promoting and strengthening SFM over the past decade, with the role of forest services enshrined in the Organization’s governing treaty (the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006) and an extensive portfolio of field-level projects designed to promote their sustainable management and establish functioning markets for them. Its thematic program on Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Enhancing Environmental Services in Tropical Forests (REDDES) has supported such projects in 20 tropical countries since 2008.
The forum will cover four thematic areas:
  • PES for sustainable forest management,
  • Developing innovative financial mechanisms,
  • Ensuring benefits for local communities, and
  • Establishing robust governance and institutional arrangements.
This forum in San José is expected to result in a statement from the assembled experts containing recommendations for countries and international organizations, including ITTO, on steps to be taken to realize the potential of PES as a key component of sustainable tropical forest management.
For more information on the International Forum on Payments for Environmental Services from Tropical Forests, visit
For more information on ITTO and its work on PES, visit