Forests provide many and large benefits, including cost-efficient climate change mitigation. However international carbon markets have not stimulated the demand for forestry offsets. Domestic market-mechanisms are emerging in many countries and forests could be highly valued through these policies as most of the benefits produced by forests are enjoyed locally. Here, a choice experiment explores drivers of valuation and willingness to pay for forest carbon services in voluntary markets in Mexico by comparing the valuation of citizens from four regions to test geographical preference for projects (n = 645). Findings from multinomial-logit models show valuation of forest carbon services is transferable and citizens would pay more for offsets from projects closer to their homes. Proximate forests provide a range of co-benefits to local users, including environmental services and opportunities for recreation. Factors related to valuation include sense of responsibility, previous knowledge of carbon emissions, previous visits to the sites, regional identification and the valuation of local environmental services (e.g. improvements in local air quality). Knowledge of spatial heterogeneity in valuation of the use of forest services can help to design market-based instruments by identifying highly valued areas for environmental services programs and carbon markets.
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