Stopping Deforestation: What Works and What Doesn't
A new Center for Global Development meta-analysis of 117 studies has identified the key factors that drive or deter deforestation. Some findings confirm conventional wisdom. Building roads and expanding agriculture in forested areas, for example, worsen deforestation, whereas protected areas deter deforestation. Encouragingly, payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs that compensate people who live in or near forests for maintaining them are consistently associated with lower rates of deforestation. But contrary to popular belief, poverty is not associated with greater deforestation, and the rising incomes brought about by economic growth do not, in themselves, lead to less deforestation. Community forest management and strengthening land tenure, often thought to reduce deforestation while promoting development, have no consistent impact on deforestation.
These findings have important implications for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and provide the best evidence yet that deliberate policies coupled with financial incentives can slow, halt, and eventually reverse the loss of the world’s remaining tropical forests. This brief is based on Kalifi Ferretti-Gallon and Jonah Busch, “What Drives Deforestation and What Stops It? A Meta- Analysis of Spatially Explicit Econometric Studies,” CGD Working Paper 361 (Washington: Center for Global Development, 2014).
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