A global evaluation of the effectiveness of voluntary REDD+ projects at reducing deforestation and degradation in the moist tropics

Alex Guizar Coutiño, Julia P. G. Jones, Andrew Balmford, Rachel Carmenta, David A. Coomes

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Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) projects aim to contribute to climate change mitigation by protecting and enhancing carbon stocks in tropical forests, but there are no systematic global evaluations of their impact. Using a new data set for tropical humid forests, we used a standardised evaluation approach to quantify the performance of a representative sample of 40 voluntary REDD+ certified under the Verified Carbon Standard, located in nine countries. In the first five years of implementation, deforestation within project areas was reduced by 47% (95% CI = 24–68%) compared with matched counterfactual pixels, while degradation rates were 58% lower (95% CI = 49–63%). Reductions were small in absolute terms but greater in sites located in high deforestation settings, and did not appear to be substantially undermined by leakage activities in forested areas within 10-km of project boundaries. At COP26 the international community renewed its commitment to tackling tropical deforestation as a nature-based solution to climate change. Our results indicate that incentivising forest conservation through voluntary site-based projects can slow tropical deforestation; they also highlight the particular importance of targeting financing to areas at greater risk of deforestation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation Biology
Early online date17 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jun 2022

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