Payment for ecosystem services is a concept of environmental protection and method of environmental management that has “purchasing conservation” as a major feature and has grown around the world since the 1990s. It is stressed by the school of environmental economics that as a voluntary mechanism of exchange between ecological service providers and demanders, payments for ecosystem services can help to increase inputs and improve efficiency. Ecological economics holds that the ecological system and the complexity of the policy environment restrict the functional space of market mechanisms. The negative influence of the objective of giving priority to efficiency on environmental protection and social fairness cannot be neglected; therefore, the exchange mechanism is just one type of eco-compensation models. Here, we posit that payments for ecosystem services is a good tool for environmental protection and increases inputs and efficiency. Although payment for ecosystem services is confronted with challenges in application, it is playing an increasingly important role in the field of ecological services with a relatively high degree of commodification. Payments for ecosystem services can also increase the cost effectiveness of publicly managed environmental projects with the cooperation of other policy tools.
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