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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15 Citations (Scopus)
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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 have been no systematic global evaluations of their impact. We used a new data set for tropical humid forests and a standardized evaluation approach (based on pixel matching) to quantify the performance of a representative sample of 40 voluntary REDD+ projects in 9 countries certified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). In the first 5 years of implementation, deforestation within project areas was reduced by 47% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 24–68) compared with matched counterfactual pixels, and 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 the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international community renewed its commitment to tackling tropical deforestation as a nature-based solution to climate change. Our results indicate that incentivizing forest conservation through voluntary site-based projects can slow tropical deforestation and highlight the particular importance of prioritizing financing for areas at greater risk of deforestation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13970
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number6
Early online date17 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • carbon
  • Carbono
  • correspondencia
  • ecosystem services
  • evaluación de impacto
  • forest loss
  • impact evaluation
  • matching
  • nature-based solutions
  • pérdida de bosques
  • servicios ecosistémicos
  • soluciones basadas en la naturaleza

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