Research helps ensure that forest conservation does not harm the poorest

Authors Directorate, E.S.P.A.
Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Impact Story


An ESPA project has provided recommendations to the government and other stakeholders in Madagascar to ensure that both environmental and livelihoods considerations are taken into account within its national programme for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Specifically: 

  • Madagascar’s forests store carbon of global importance, and provide incredible biodiversity. The Malagasy government is using REDD+ to contribute to its global climate mitigation efforts.
  • Shifting agriculture (locally known as ‘tavy’) has traditionally provided access to fertile soils for hundreds of thousands of small farmers. Conservation restrictions aimed at protecting forests by preventing tavy have the potential to negatively impact poor people’s livelihoods.
  • The ESPA P4GES project investigated how international ecosystem service payment schemes (including REDD+) can most effectively reduce poverty. It found that conservation that produces global benefits has local costs; these costs are born most heavily by the poorest. This raises critical issues for Malagasy policy-makers about how people’s access to natural resources should be recognised and valued, and what conditions should be placed on REDD+ schemes to ensure that the poorest benefit and do not suffer harm – including appropriate compensation if people’s access to natural resources is restricted.
  • Findings of the research have been shared with the Malagasy government and other stakeholders in many different ways, raising considerable interest and laying the foundations for future impact.