A "proof of concept" study shows that paying developing country landowners not to cut down their trees actually works.
In a convincing new study conducted in Uganda and based on a program sponsored in part by its government, a team of researchers have found an effective and affordable way to combat deforestation in a country showing some of the fastest tree loss rates in the world. How? The program simply paid owners of forest land not to cut down their own trees for either agricultural purposes or to sell them for timber.
The research provides a positive model for protecting a forest region that is a hub for biodiversity, including serving as a key habitat for endangered chimpanzees. At the same time, it also validates the effectiveness of a “Payments for Ecosystems Services” program of the sort that could bolster the battle against global deforestation and its impact as a leading driver of climate change.
More such programs could be supported under a broader United Nations initiative called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), in which richer countries and other international funders make payments to developing nations in exchange for protecting their vital trees. That quest that has only become more urgent after an explicit shout-out to the importance of combating deforestation, and REDD+, in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.