Improving forest conservation and enabling access for rural poor to benefit from REDD and PES programs

Term: October 2009-September 2010

Funding: Conservation International

People: PI: Lisa Naughton; Margaret Holland; Communications director: Kurt Brown.

Participating institutions: LTC, Conservation International.

Summary: Through an agreement with the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS), of Conservation International, we launched a research agenda on the connections among poverty, land tenure insecurity and deforestation. Dr. Naughton and Maggie Holland (ABD Nelson Institute) are working to identify best practices for land titling and access rules in payment for ecosystem services (PES) in tropical countries. Some studies suggest that protected areas (PAs) act as poverty traps for the rural poor; other studies point to vital benefits, such as providing water and reducing the impact of violent storms. The debate is especially important in the tropics, where PAs cover approximately 14% of the land mass, and include much of the planet?s richest biodiversity and poorest people. The project delves into a rich dataset from Central American countries on the environmental impact of PAs and socioeconomic indicators at the community, municipal, and provincial level. In addition to documenting trends over a 20-year period, the research will help improve practice and action for the rural poor based on understanding the benefits and costs, at different scales, of PAs.