Friday, 21 July 2017

Northwestern University/Hilary Hurd Anyaso: Paying people to protect forests is worth it

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Your source for the latest research news

Paying people to protect forests is worth it

Date:
    July 20, 2017

Source:
    Northwestern University

Summary:
    A new study suggests that paying people to conserve their trees could be a highly cost-effective way to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions and should be a key part of the global strategy to fight climate change. The study sought to evaluate how effective 'Payments for Ecosystems' (PES) is at reducing deforestation.
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FULL STORY



A new Northwestern University study suggests that paying people to conserve their trees could be a highly cost-effective way to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions and should be a key part of the global strategy to fight climate change.

The study, led by Seema Jayachandran, associate professor of economics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, sought to evaluate how effective "Payments for Ecosystems" (PES) is at reducing deforestation. PES is a program in which people are given financial rewards for pro-environment behaviors.

In the study, people who owned forest in 60 villages in western Uganda were given cash rewards if they kept their forest intact and refrained from deforesting it. Forest owners in another 61 villages in western Uganda received no monetary incentives.

"We found that the program had very large impacts on forest cover," said Jayachandran, also a faculty fellow with Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research. "In the villages without the program, 9 percent of the tree cover that was in place at the start of the study was gone by the end of it, two years later. In the villages with the PES program, there was 4 to 5 percent tree loss. In other words, there was still deforestation, but much less of it.

"It wasn't the case that only forest owners who were planning to conserve anyway enrolled," Jayachandran said. "The payments changed people's behavior and prompted them to conserve. And we didn't find any evidence that they simply shifted their tree-cutting elsewhere. This truly was a net increase in forest cover in the study region."

The first of its kind, the study applies the method of field experiments, or randomized controlled trials, to the question of how effective PES is. The study design helped the researchers accurately measure the averted deforestation caused by the program.

Jayachandran said the cost effectiveness of the program compared to other approaches to reduce carbon emissions, such as subsidies for hybrid or electric vehicles in the U.S., was eye opening.

"A major contribution of the study was to compare the benefit of reduced deforestation to the cost of the program. What's that extra forest worth to society? We do that by applying what's called the 'social cost of carbon,'" Jayachandran said.

"This is an estimate that others have come up with for the economic damage to the world from each ton of CO2 that is emitted. We found that the benefit of the delayed CO2 emissions was over twice as large as the program costs. For many other environmental policies, the value of the averted CO2 is in fact smaller than the program costs."

The findings highlight the advantages of focusing on developing countries when working to reduce global carbon emissions. While the benefit of conserving a tree is the same regardless of the location, paying individuals to conserve forests in developing countries like Uganda is less expensive, making it cheaper to reduce overall emissions.

Today, with deforestation accounting for a substantial portion of human-induced carbon emissions, the researchers describe the payment program they studied as "a cost-effective way to avert deforestation in developing countries -- and hence a powerful tool to mitigate climate change."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Northwestern University. Original written by Hilary Hurd Anyaso. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

    Seema Jayachandran, Joost de Laat, Eric F. Lambin, Charlotte Y. Stanton, Robin Audy, Nancy E. Thomas. Cash for carbon: A randomized trial of payments for ecosystem services to reduce deforestation. Science, 2017; 357 (6348): 267 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0568

Cite This Page:

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    APA
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Northwestern University. "Paying people to protect forests is worth it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170720142312.htm>.

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June 4, 2014 — Programs and policies to reduce tropical deforestation, and the global warming emissions resulting from deforestation, are seeing broad success in 17 countries across four continents, according to a ... read more
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May 29, 2013 — Deforestation is the second largest source of CO2 emissions after consumption of fossil fuels. So-called PES programs, where landowners are paid to replant or protect forests, have been promoted as a ... read more
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Science News
from research organizations
Paying people to protect forests is worth it

Date:
    July 20, 2017
Source:
    Northwestern Univrsity
Summary:
    A new study suggests that paying people to conserve their trees could be a highly cost-effective way to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions and should be a key part of the global strategy to fight climate change. The study sought to evaluate how effective 'Payments for Ecosystems' (PES) is at reducing deforestation.
Share:

FULL STORY
Participants in the PES program receiving their payments for conserving trees.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust

A new Northwestern University study suggests that paying people to conserve their trees could be a highly cost-effective way to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions and should be a key part of the global strategy to fight climate change.

The study, led by Seema Jayachandran, associate professor of economics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, sought to evaluate how effective "Payments for Ecosystems" (PES) is at reducing deforestation. PES is a program in which people are given financial rewards for pro-environment behaviors.

In the study, people who owned forest in 60 villages in western Uganda were given cash rewards if they kept their forest intact and refrained from deforesting it. Forest owners in another 61 villages in western Uganda received no monetary incentives.

"We found that the program had very large impacts on forest cover," said Jayachandran, also a faculty fellow with Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research. "In the villages without the program, 9 percent of the tree cover that was in place at the start of the study was gone by the end of it, two years later. In the villages with the PES program, there was 4 to 5 percent tree loss. In other words, there was still deforestation, but much less of it.

"It wasn't the case that only forest owners who were planning to conserve anyway enrolled," Jayachandran said. "The payments changed people's behavior and prompted them to conserve. And we didn't find any evidence that they simply shifted their tree-cutting elsewhere. This truly was a net increase in forest cover in the study region."

The first of its kind, the study applies the method of field experiments, or randomized controlled trials, to the question of how effective PES is. The study design helped the researchers accurately measure the averted deforestation caused by the program.

Jayachandran said the cost effectiveness of the program compared to other approaches to reduce carbon emissions, such as subsidies for hybrid or electric vehicles in the U.S., was eye opening.

"A major contribution of the study was to compare the benefit of reduced deforestation to the cost of the program. What's that extra forest worth to society? We do that by applying what's called the 'social cost of carbon,'" Jayachandran said.

"This is an estimate that others have come up with for the economic damage to the world from each ton of CO2 that is emitted. We found that the benefit of the delayed CO2 emissions was over twice as large as the program costs. For many other environmental policies, the value of the averted CO2 is in fact smaller than the program costs."

The findings highlight the advantages of focusing on developing countries when working to reduce global carbon emissions. While the benefit of conserving a tree is the same regardless of the location, paying individuals to conserve forests in developing countries like Uganda is less expensive, making it cheaper to reduce overall emissions.

Today, with deforestation accounting for a substantial portion of human-induced carbon emissions, the researchers describe the payment program they studied as "a cost-effective way to avert deforestation in developing countries -- and hence a powerful tool to mitigate climate change."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Northwestern University. Original written by Hilary Hurd Anyaso. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

    Seema Jayachandran, Joost de Laat, Eric F. Lambin, Charlotte Y. Stanton, Robin Audy, Nancy E. Thomas. Cash for carbon: A randomized trial of payments for ecosystem services to reduce deforestation. Science, 2017; 357 (6348): 267 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0568

Cite This Page:

    MLA
    APA
    Chicago

Northwestern University. "Paying people to protect forests is worth it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170720142312.htm>.

RELATED STORIES
Not All National Parks Are Created Equal
June 3, 2015 — In an effort to shape policy, new research goes into finer detail to see whether or not national parks are really effective in preventing deforestation. For the study, the researchers focused on the ... read more
Report Highlights Successful Efforts to Stem Deforestation in 17 Countries
June 4, 2014 — Programs and policies to reduce tropical deforestation, and the global warming emissions resulting from deforestation, are seeing broad success in 17 countries across four continents, according to a ... read more
Simplified Solutions to Deforestation Ineffective in Long Run
May 29, 2013 — Deforestation is the second largest source of CO2 emissions after consumption of fossil fuels. So-called PES programs, where landowners are paid to replant or protect forests, have been promoted as a ... read more
No-Win Situation for Agricultural Expansion in the Amazon
May 10, 2013 — The large-scale expansion of agriculture in the Amazon through deforestation will be a no-win scenario, according to a new study. The study shows that deforestation will not only reduce the capacity ... read more
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Ancient Swiss Reptile Shows Its Bizarre Scale Armor for the First Time

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    Society
    Quirky

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