A Simple Strategy May Be Key in Climate Change Fight
A small patch of forest still burns after being cleared for farming in West Kalimantan, Indonesia (Titis Setianingtyas/PRI)
A key strategy in the fight against climate change is slowing the rapid destruction of the world’s forests.
When trees burn or decompose, they release carbon. About 10 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted every year are from this newly freed carbon rising into the atmosphere.
In recent years, developed countries have committed billions of dollars to help developing countries prevent deforestation. Some of the funds have been used to pay landowners not to cut down their trees. Part of the goal is to give landowners income that isn't dependent on clearing land for agriculture or selling timber to meet big expenses.
Costa Rica was the first country to start this kind of program 20 years ago, and several countries, including Mexico, have followed suit. But conservationists have long questioned how well they work. How many people who get paid not to cut down trees would have done so in the first place? Will people just shift their timber harvesting to different areas? Are these programs cost-effective?
A new study, published in Science magazine, is the first to analyze a landowner payment program in a randomized trial — the gold standard of field research that is common in many areas of study but rare in conservation.
Read the rest at PRI's The World
Related: Is It a Good Idea to Pay Villagers Not to Chop Down Trees? (NPR)
Related: Forests Are Key for Saving Orangutans — and Slowing Climate Change (PRI)
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