Socioeconomic Tools

Socioeconomic tools can also be passive and active. In a free market economy, the ratio between benefits and costs of livestock or agricultural production has triggered the abandonment of large extensions of land throughout the world. In other cases, removal of perverse subsidies—such as elements of the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe that has encouraged farming on uneconomic and marginal lands—could help stimulate natural regeneration. Active financial tools that foster abandonment of livestock grazing and agricultural production also exist.

An innovative and promising tool is payment for the environmental services that forests provide to humans, which favours forest conservation first and encourages forest restoration second. This programme is already widely applied in Costa Rica (see "Payment for Environmental Services and Restoration").

Another tool is to subsidise set-aside programmes for agricultural lands and to convert those into forest plantations or restore the natural vegetation. This tool has been widely applied in the European Union (EU) Mediterranean countries. However, its success has been limited by the fact that the subsidies have encouraged some landowners to plough and reforest lands that had already been abandoned and were undergoing passive restoration.

Further socioeconomic tools—which are still very marginal—are related to the links between active restoration and environmental education and local sustainable development. For instance, the reforestation of vast extensions of abandoned land or the enrichment of secondary forests in developing countries requires the creation of a labour force and small industries such as specialised nurseries.

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