Our monetary compensation programme for poor rural communities in Mexico’s Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve encouraged them to forgo exploitation of their natural resources to provide ecosystem services for the city of Colima (see Nature 591, 178; 2021). But focusing solely on the monetary value of ecosystems isn’t enough.
The National Forestry Commission of Mexico and the Fund for Natural Protected Areas have made compensatory payments of almost US$1 million to communities in the Cerro Grande region of the reserve since 2003, backed since 2013 by a local fiduciary fund of voluntary contributions from Colima’s citizens. However, the voluntary payments are minimal because most people don’t acknowledge the importance of the mountain forest that provides 90% of their water.
As well as monetary schemes, the cutural traditions and the land-tenure rights of communal organizations must be recognized. They should be empowered to draw up contracts between owners of natural resources and urban beneficiaries that will promote their common social, economic and livelihood interests. To increase productivity and family income for impoverished small landowners, payment for ecosystem services could be implemented by using diverse marketing approaches that include sustainable agroforestry and livestock production.
Nature 593, 195 (2021)