This is the idea in a nutshell:
Ecosystem goods and services have a lot of socio-economic value.
Most of this value does not have a market price.
Agricultural activities is the biggest land-user and impacts on the continued provision of ecosystem goods and services.
Thus, incentivise farmers to conserve and restore rather than to farm.
Will it work?
The FAO released a report on the topic. Three main conclusions on the way forward were reached:
1. Don't even attempt this if the rights to environmental services are not defined and clarity is reached on who should bear the costs
2. Much more research on ecological and socio-economic implications of environmental service provision and use.
3. Institutional support and capacity building is needed
My take on this?
Good idea, but pretty much still in research and design phase.
No macro-level development option yet, but watch the space.