Giudice Granados, Renzo: The effectiveness and efficiency of forest conservation policies to reduce deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. - Bonn, 2023. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Renzo Giudice Granados}},
title = {The effectiveness and efficiency of forest conservation policies to reduce deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2023,
month = jan,

note = {Between 2015 and 2020, 9.3 million hectares of tropical forests were annually deforested. Deforestation represents the second largest source of carbon emissions globally, reduces biodiversity and ecosystem services, and threatens livelihoods. Reducing deforestation is considered a cost-effective climate change mitigation strategy and key to achieve sustainable development goals in tropical regions. The last decade has seen significant investments in designing and implementing forest conservation policies. Yet their environmental and socioeconomic impacts, as well as trade-offs between these, are rarely evaluated. Such an understanding is crucial for designing better forest conservation interventions and avoiding unintended negative effects on local populations.
This thesis provides a three-step methodological approach to analyze the environmental effects of forest conservation interventions, their costs and benefits, and trade-offs between avoiding deforestation cost-effectively and welfare effects. I provide policy makers with evidence-based policy recommendations to design and implement conservation interventions in the Peruvian Amazon. Peru is a good study case because although the government is increasingly trying to stop forest clearing, the deforestation rate is still increasing and policies against deforestation have seldom been evaluated.
First, I identify the factors that affected the effectiveness of Peru’s National Forest Conservation Program (Programa Bosques) during its pilot phase (2011-2015). Programa Bosques provides cash transfers to individual indigenous communities, conditional on avoided deforestation and the adoption of sustainable production systems for a period of five years. I use a spatially explicit quasi-experimental and counterfactual approach to assess the program’s effectiveness. Between 2011 and 2015, Programa Bosques reduced deforestation by about 557 (± 490) hectares. This reduction was the result of spillover effects on land not enrolled for conservation. Avoided deforestation was negligible because enrolled areas presented low deforestation threats.
Second, I estimate the net economic benefit of Programa Bosques’ avoided deforestation by means of a cost benefit analysis. I consider spatial heterogeneity in conservation opportunity costs as well as uncertainty across a wide range of parameters by applying the Monte Carlo method. I use the social cost of carbon to value benefits. Costs and benefits are considered from the perspectives of the local communities, the country, and the global society. Results indicated that deforestation was avoided at a net cost (USD 13.7 Million). This poor conservation performance was due to high implementation costs (~67% of total budget), and the short permanence of the avoided deforestation in time (= 5 years). The Peruvian economy bore most of these costs and only marginal benefits were provided to the local communities and the global society. Third, I explore alternative policy design options that incorporate a mix of incentives and disincentives to mitigate the potential trade-offs between cost-effective deforestation reductions and landholders’ income losses. I develop a spatially explicit model simulating landholders’ decision to deforest and use it to estimate the costs, cost-effectiveness, and welfare effects of a policy-mix of payments for ecosystem services and fines for deforestation. Simulations showed that a policy approach solely based on fines is more cost effective than one based on payments. Nevertheless, results indicated a trade-off between cost-effectiveness and welfare because rural incomes were considerably reduced when only fines were applied. Introducing payments mitigated this trade-off by compensating the income losses of landholders that reduced deforestation.
These findings highlight the importance of accounting for spatially heterogeneous contexts to increase forest conservation effectiveness. In turn, to increase forest conservation’s net benefits, it is necessary to secure the permanence of the avoided deforestation as long as possible, and minimize implementation costs, whilst paying attention to distributional outcomes. Finally, regarding policy mixes to avoid deforestation, there is no silver bullet that will deliver both high cost-effectiveness and welfare gains. Nevertheless, adding payments to a command and control approach could compensate otherwise high-income losses among vulnerable populations, making such a policy mix more politically viable.},

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