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12/09/2010

Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador discuss forestry programs

Nations share experiences in Payment for Environmental Services plans

Forestry officials from Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador met on Thursday in Cancun to discuss their experiences in developing Payment for Environmental Services programs, or PES, and advancing national strategies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a global initiative that allots financial incentives for national ecosystem protection plans.

“We have the great challenge of maintaining our primary and native forests, and we also have incredibly high levels of deforestation in regions that converge with zones of poverty and social vulnerability,” said Marcela Aguiñaja Vallejo, Ecuador’s Minister of Environment. “But at the same time, these are regions of incredibly high biodiversity and rich ecosystems.”

Ecuador in recent years implemented its Forest Partner Program to protect and develop the ecological, economic and cultural attributes in about 4 million hectares of forest cover. Marcela Aguiñaja Vallejo said that Ecuador could continue to learn from practices already in place in Costa Rica and Mexico.

In the last two decades, Costa Rica has pioneered forestry protection in Central America by allotting economic recognition for the sustainable practices through its National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO). When the program began in 1997, deforestation swept through 18,000 hectares/year. By 2005, deforestation levels had dropped to 5,000 hectares/year. In that same nine-year period, reforestation initiatives increased forest cover by nearly 10 percent.

The Mexican Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) began its own PSE initiative in 2003, and has since spent 5.3 billion pesos ($425 million) on environmental services in 3 percent – or nearly 2.8 billion hectares – of its national forest cover. The program includes around 5,400 ejidos, or community land parcels often managed by indigenous communities.

Keywords
COP16, COP16/CMP6, Climate Change, Cancunmesse, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Payment for Environmental Services, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, REDD

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