Among the potential environmental services of forests, carbon sequestration has the widest applicability. That is because any action that keeps a ton of carbon out of the atmosphere has the same climatic impact no matter where it occurs.
In contrast, many of the environmental services enumerated by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment are location-specific and idiosyncratic: eco-tourism, hydrological regulation, or maintenance of globally significant biodiversity.
Carbon payments might provide significant benefits to tropical countries. Sathaye and others find that over 40 years, paying $10 per ton of carbon (rising with the inflation rate) would have a net present value of $150 billion in payments to developing countries for avoided deforestation.
Containing forest carbon would also provide local and global benefits that would otherwise be difficult to finance—including conservation of globally significant biodiversity and of forests with spiritual or other values that are difficult to monetize. Forest carbon control might also help finance agroforestry and agricultural intensification in unforested areas.