28 May '11, 4am

The Costa Rican govt pays property owners to refrain from planting crops or grazing animals on their land.

The value of a property owner's healthy ecosystem -- her pure water, clean air, active pollinators, and other "ecosystem services" -- is hard to quantify. But a new report from the U.S. Forest Service suggests that to conserve our natural resources, we'll need to figure out how to do that -- and then develop a market that financially rewards people for protecting their land. "Ecosystem services are the benefits that nature provides, outside of things like timber and food, which already have a market value," says Gina LaRocco, a conservation associate at Defenders of Wildlife and a coauthor of the report. To discourage deforestation, for example, the government of Costa Rica compensates property owners simply for refraining from planting crops or grazing animals on their land.

Full article: http://www.onearth.org/article/natures-payback

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