Nav: Home

Rainforest conservation in Peru must become more effective

April 05, 2019

A few years ago, the Peruvian government launched a program to protect the rainforest. However, an analysis by the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn shows that its effect is small. But the researchers also have good news: Three measures could probably significantly increase effectiveness. The study is now published in the Journal Environmental Research Letters.

In their publication the scientists analyze the "National Forest Conservation Program" (NFCP). It was launched by the Peruvian government in 2010 to curb the deforestation of the rainforest. The program is aimed at indigenous communities in the Amazon region. It is mainly funded from public Peruvian sources and by international donors.

Communities that succeed in effectively curbing deforestation on their territory and establishing sustainable production systems receive a compensation payment: the equivalent of three dollars per year and per hectare of forest. They also receive technical assistance to implement the sustainable production systems. "We have investigated the extent to which the program has successfully contributed to forest conservation," explains Renzo Giudice. The Peruvian is a PhD candidate and researcher at the ZEF with a DAAD scholarship. His doctoral thesis is supervised by Prof. Dr. Jan Börner, whose working group investigates the economic aspects of sustainable land use.

Giudice has studied the development of forest cover in 50 indigenous communities participating in the program. For comparison, he used 50 other communities that had not enrolled in the NFCP, but were otherwise very similar to those of the first group. "We were able to prove that the loss of forest among NFCP participants was somewhat lower," he states as a central outcome. "However, this difference was very small."

Why was this? Giudice and his colleagues cite two main reasons for this: On the one hand, communities themselves could decide which part of their land they designated as a protected area. "They often chose the strategy that made the most economic sense," explains the scientist: "Particularly areas that are already hardly threatened by deforestation were declared protection zones." These are areas that are unsuitable or inaccessible for agriculture.

Violations only punished leniently

In addition, the government did not consistently punish violations of the program's conditions. The people living in villages in the Amazon region are among Peru's poorest social classes. The NFCP therefore generally has two objectives: on the one hand to protect the forest and on the other to combat poverty. "This is probably the reason why those responsible turned a blind eye when the environmental goal was not achieved," explains Giudice.

The scientists propose that the program be redesigned to increase its effectiveness in a socially responsible way. Corresponding recommendations for action were also made to those responsible for the program in the course of the study together with the GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation): First, the participating communities should have to enroll their entire territory and not only selected parts. And secondly, the government should insist more consistently on compliance with the agreed protection goals. Violations of the rules would by no means have to lead to the exclusion of an indigenous community from the program, but only to a reduction in the compensation payment by an amount corresponding to the loss of forest. Land use would then always remain a voluntary decision of the community.

There is also a third point: Those responsible should primarily offer participation in the program to those communities whose areas are most ecologically endangered. Whilst the government had drawn up a list of priority areas in advance, the criteria for this ranking were chosen inappropriately and were not communicated transparently. Some of the funds flowed into areas where the forest is still doing quite well anyway. "The available money should be distributed more efficiently," Giudice emphasizes. "The aim must be to benefit above all the indigenous communities where the forest is most threatened."

The Amazon rainforest is regarded as an extremely important ecosystem that is the basis of life for millions of people. Furthermore, it is an important climate factor, not only because of its carbon storage service, but also as a motor for global water cycles.
Publication: Renzo Giudice, Jan Börner, Sven Wunder and Elias Cisneros: Selection biases and spillovers from collective conservation incentives in the Peruvian Amazon, Environ. Res. Lett. (2019),


Renzo Giudice
Center for Development Research (ZEF)
University of Bonn
Tel. +49(0)228/731816

University of Bonn

Related Deforestation Articles:

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.
Coca and conflict: the factors fuelling Colombian deforestation
Deforestation in Colombia has been linked to armed conflict and forests' proximity to coca crops, the plant from which cocaine is derived.
Sexual competition helps horned beetles survive deforestation
A study of how dung beetles survive deforestation in Borneo suggests that species with more competition among males for matings are less likely to go extinct, according to research led by scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Climate change and deforestation together push tropical species towards extinction
Only 38 per cent of tropical forest is 'wildlife friendly' as a result of deforestation, increasing the likelihood that vulnerable species will go extinct, say scientists.
Roads and deforestation explode in the Congo basin
Logging roads are expanding dramatically in the Congo Basin, leading to catastrophic collapses in animal populations living in the world's second-largest rainforest, according to research co-led by a scientist at James Cook University in Australia.
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

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.