Journal Article

Protecting forests, biodiversity, and the climate: predicting policy impact to improve policy choice

Alexander Pfaff and Juan Robalino

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 28, issue 1, pages 164-179
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/grs012
Protecting forests, biodiversity, and the climate: predicting policy impact to improve policy choice

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  • Environmental Economics
  • Renewable Resources and Conservation
  • Development Planning and Policy
  • Non-renewable Resources and Conservation
  • Economic Development

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Policies must balance forest conservation’s local costs with its benefits—local to global—in terms of biodiversity, the mitigation of climate change, and other eco-services such as water quality. The trade-offs with development vary across forest locations. We argue that considering location in three ways helps to predict policy impact and improve policy choice: (i) policy impacts vary by location because baseline deforestation varies with characteristics (market distances, slopes, soils, etc.) of locations in a landscape; (ii) different mixes of political-economic pressures drive the location of different policies; and (iii) policies can trigger ‘second-order’ or ‘spillover’ effects likely to differ by location. We provide empirical evidence that suggests the importance of all three considerations, by reviewing high-quality evaluations of the impact of conservation and development on forest. Impacts of well-enforced conservation rise with private clearing pressure, supporting (i). Protection types (e.g. federal/state) differ in locations and thus in impacts, supporting (ii). Differences in development process explain different signs for spillovers, supporting (iii).

Keywords: biodiversity; deforestation; conservation; climate change; impact evaluation; Q24; Q28; Q38; Q57; Q54; Q56; O13; O21

Journal Article.  7631 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Economics ; Renewable Resources and Conservation ; Development Planning and Policy ; Non-renewable Resources and Conservation ; Economic Development

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