Conditions Associated with Protected Area Success in Conservation and Poverty Reduction
PNAS, Vol. 108, No. 34, August 2011
6 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2015
Date Written: 2011
Protected areas are the dominant approach to protecting biodiversity and the supply of ecosystem services. Because these protected areas are often placed in regions with widespread poverty and because they can limit agricultural development and exploitation of natural resources, concerns have been raised about their potential to create or reinforce poverty traps. Previous studies suggest that the protected area systems in Costa Rica and Thailand, on average, reduced deforestation and alleviated poverty.We examine these results in more detail by characterizing the heterogeneity of responses to protection conditional on observable characteristics. We find no evidence that protected areas trap historically poorer areas in poverty. In fact, we find that poorer areas at baseline seem to have the greatest levels of poverty reduction as a result of protection. However, we do find that the spatial characteristics associated with the most poverty alleviation are not necessarily the characteristics associated with the most avoided deforestation. We show how an understanding of these spatially heterogeneous responses to protection can be used to generate suitability maps that identify locations in which both environmental and poverty alleviation goals are most likely to be achieved.
Keywords: evaluation, parks, tropical forest, nonparametric, matching
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