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) programmes 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+), the global movement to offer tropical countries performance-based payments for protecting their forests. The findings 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.