Nav: Home

Is conservation aid preventing deforestation?

March 01, 2016

URBANA, Ill. - With over $3.4 billion spent in international conservation funding to protect biodiversity and stop tropical deforestation in Africa since the early 1990s, it makes sense to ask if the funding is effective. A recent study finds that conservation aid alone has not been able to counteract deforestation pressures, and in some cases may have even exacerbated forest loss.

University of Illinois's Daniel Miller, who studies international environmental politics, and two other researchers examined data from 2000 to 2013 on the rates of deforestation across 42 sub-Saharan countries.

"We find evidence that some conservation aid actually leads to a short-term increase in deforestation," Miller says. "Our hypothesis is that it's displacement. The conservation aid may have gone toward a national park in, say, Benin, leading to less deforestation inside the park. That's the good news, but the bad news is that the funding may have just displaced forest clearing activities outside park boundaries. Our study looks at the country-size scale, so results may be capturing this displacement effect."

Miller and his co-authors looked at a sub-set of African countries with high forest cover--countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia--to see if dynamics were different. They found that quality of governance--rule of law, government effectiveness, whether citizens have a voice in selecting their leaders--affected the results.

"In heavily forested countries, we found that better governance on its own did not predict less deforestation," Miller says, "but in such countries, better governance apparently allowed conservation aid to have a positive impact in reducing deforestation. It may be that good governance in countries where forests are an important natural resource helps ensure conservation and sustainable management not only in protected areas but outside them as well."

Miller says there is already a lot of research looking at factors such as economic growth and rural population growth as deforestation drivers. A key innovation in this study is to include factors that can mitigate deforestation drivers, like conservation aid and existence of national parks and other projected areas, in the same statistical models.

"Unfortunately, the amount of aid is so little and the pressures to cut down the forest for furniture markets, firewood and building materials for homes, or other uses are so great that the conservation and money and protected areas are not enough to counteract the overall loss of forest in many countries."
-end-
The study "Assessing the impact of international conservation aid on deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa" appears in Environmental Research Letters. It was written by Matthew Bare, Craig Kauffman, and Daniel C. Miller. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation provided funding to support the research.

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Related Deforestation Articles:

Degradation outpaces deforestation in Brazilian Amazon
The area of the Brazilian Amazon affected by forest degradation--where forest biomass is lost but not completely converted to another use--is greater than the area affected by deforestation, according to a long-term study by Eraldo Aparecido Trondoli Matricardi and colleagues.
Growing demand for zero-deforestation cacao might not help Colombian forests
Cacao in Colombia is not a major driver of deforestation - yet.
Small-farm tech reduces deforestation, climate change
Small farms in Zambia that use the latest hybrid seed for maize, help reduce deforestation and tackle climate change in a new Cornell University study.
The complex relationship between deforestation and diet diversity in the Amazon
As increasing areas of the Amazonian rainforest are converted into agricultural land, scientists are examining how this is linked with local communities' food access.
Why are we still failing to stop deforestation?
While national and international efforts to reverse the trend of deforestation have multiplied in recent years, there is still no clear evidence to suggest that these initiatives are actually working.
Stopping deforestation: lessons from Colombia
A study of deforestation in Colombia by researchers from The University of Queensland has revealed some valuable insights which could be used to help slow deforestation in areas around the globe.
Climate may play a bigger role than deforestation in rainforest biodiversity
In a study on small mammal biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest, researchers found that climate may affect biodiversity in rainforests even more than deforestation does.
Study finds deforestation is changing animal communication
Deforestation is changing the way monkeys communicate in their natural habitat, according to a new study.
Geographers find tipping point in deforestation
University of Cincinnati geography researchers have identified a tipping point for deforestation that leads to rapid forest loss.
Amazon deforestation has a significant impact on the local climate in Brazil
The loss of forest cover in the Amazon has a significant impact on the local climate in Brazil, according to a new study.
More Deforestation News and Deforestation Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.