Through the commodification of nature, the framing of the environment as a ‘natural resource’ or ‘ecosystem service’ has become increasingly prominent in international environmental governance. The economic capture approach is promoted by international organizations such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). This paper will inquire as to how forest protection is related to issues of social and ecological justice, exploring whether forest exploitation based on the top-down managerial model fosters an unequitable distribution of resources. Both top-down and community-based approaches to forest protection will be critically examined and a more inclusive ethical framework to forest protection will be offered. The findings of this examination indicate the need for a renewed focus on existing examples of good practice in addressing both social and ecological need, as well as the necessity to address the less comfortable problem of where compromise appears less possible. The conclusion argues for the need to consider ecological justice as an important aspect of more socially orientated environmental justice for forest protection.