Can conservation efforts lead to poverty reduction?

Can we save our forests through payments and decentralisation: assessing the evidence

Speaker: Cyrus Samii, Assistant Professor, Department of Politics, New York University
Date: 12 June, 17.30-19
Venue: Upper Meeting Room, LIDC Building 36 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

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This seminar will present results from a systematic review of the impact of payments for environmental services (PES) that set natural forest conservation as the goal and decentralised forest management (DFM) studies on deforestation and poverty in developing countries. The review is motivated by debates over whether conservation and poverty reduction goals in developing countries tend to conflict or might be complementary.

A search for rigorous evaluation studies turned up eleven quantitative and nine associated qualitative evaluation studies on PES, and eight quantitative and five associated qualitative evaluation studies on DFM. With the evidence available, it was found that there is little reason for optimism concering the potential for current PES and DFM approaches to generate both conservation and poverty reduction benefits.

Emphasis is placed on the call for the production of much better impact studies, employing randomised field experiments when possible, to assess whether the apparent incompatibility of conservation and poverty reduction might be overcome through programming innovations, and how this might be done with reasonable efficiency.

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