Valuation of consumption and sale of forest goods from a Central American rain forest

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Researchers recognize that society needs accurate and comprehensive estimates of the economic value of rain forests to assess conservation and management options1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Valuation of forests can help us to decide whether to implement policies that reconcile the value different groups attach to forests. Here we have measured the value of the rain forest to local populations by monitoring the foods, construction and craft materials, and medicines consumed or sold from the forest by 32 Indian households in two villages in Honduras over 2.5 years. We have directly measured the detailed, comprehensive consumption patterns of rain forest products by an indigenous population and the value of that consumption in local markets8,9. The combined value of consumption and sale of forest goods ranged from US$17.79 to US$23.72 per hectare per year, at the lower end of previous estimates (between US$49 and US$1,089 (mean US$347) per hectare per year)4. Although outsiders value the rain forest for its high-use and non-use values10, local people receive a small share of the total value. Unless rural people are paid for the non-local values of rain forests, they may be easily persuaded to deforest.

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The programs of Cultural Anthropology and Human Dimensions of Global Change of the National Science Foundation (USA), the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council (USA) financed this research. We thank K. Bawa, M. Boscolo, J. Dixon, J. Harvey and D. Pimentel for comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ricardo Godoy.

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Godoy, R., Wilkie, D., Overman, H. et al. Valuation of consumption and sale of forest goods from a Central American rain forest. Nature 406, 62–63 (2000) doi:10.1038/35017647

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