Despite accounting for 17-25% of anthropogenic emissions, deforestation was not included in the Kyoto Protocol. The UN Convention on Climate Change is considering its inclusion in future agreements and asked its scientific board to study methodological and scientific issues related to positive incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation. Here we present an empirically derived mechanism that offers a mix of incentives to developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation, conserve and possibly enhance their ecosystem's carbon stocks. We also use recent data to model its effects on the 20 most forested developing countries. Results show that at low CO2 prices (~US$ 8/t CO2) a successful mechanism could reduce more than 90% of global deforestation at an annual cost of US$ 30 billion.