Evaluating the effectiveness of conservation and development investments in reducing deforestation and fires in Ankeniheny-Zahemena Corridor, Madagascar

Authors Tabor, K.; Jones, K.W.; Hewson, J.; Rasolohery, A.; Rambeloson, A.; Andrianjohaninarivo, T.; Harvey, C.A.
Year of Publication 2017
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal PLOS ONE
Volume 12
Issue 12
Open Access Yes

Abstract

Forest conservation and REDD+ projects invest millions of dollars each year to reduce local communities’ dependence on forests and prevent forest loss and degradation. However, to date, there is limited evidence on whether these investments are effective at delivering conservation outcomes. We explored the relationships between 600+ small-scale conservation and development investments that occurred from 2007 to 2014 and conservation outcomes (deforestation rates and fire detections) within Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor in Madagascar using linear fixed effects panel regressions. We derived annual changes in forest cover and fires from satellite remote sensing. We found a statistically significant correlation between presence of any investment and reduced deforestation rates in 2010 and 2011 –years with accelerated deforestation elsewhere in the study area. This result indicated investments abated deforestation rates during times of political instability and lack of governance following a 2009 coup in Madagascar. We also found a statistically significant relationship between presence of any investment and reduced fire detections in the study area, suggesting investments had an impact on reducing burning of forest for agriculture. For both outcomes (i.e., deforestation rates and fire detections), we found that more dollars invested led to greater conservation outcomes (i.e. fewer fires or less deforestation), particularly when funding was sustained for one to two years. Our findings suggest that conservation and development investments can reduce deforestation and fire incidence, but also highlight the many challenges and complexities in assessing relationships between investments and conservation outcomes in a dynamic landscape and a volatile political context.