Forests play an important role in the water cycle, stimulating rainfall, protecting soils from erosion and regulating the flow of water. It is therefore important to preserve forests for water management. Previous efforts to protect forests in Ecuador have relied on controlling land use and excluding local people. These methods often have limited success, because of problems such as corruption and a lack of enforcement. A new approach is to pay people to protect the forests. People who benefit from the services the forest provide - such as clean water - make payments to those who look after the forests.
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