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Forest spirits. What we know -and don't know -about the effectiveness of policies against deforestation

Bénédicte Niel, Yann Laurens, Renaud Lapeyre, Pascale Combes Motel () and Jean-Louis Combes ()
Additional contact information
Bénédicte Niel: IDDRI - Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Paris
Yann Laurens: IDDRI - Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Paris
Renaud Lapeyre: IDDRI - Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Paris
Pascale Combes Motel: CERDI - Centre d'Études et de Recherches sur le Développement International - Clermont Auvergne - UCA - Université Clermont Auvergne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Pascale Combes Motel ()

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Abstract: Most recent studies addressing the effectiveness of policies aiming at combatting deforestation produce mixed results, showing no consistency between a certain policy design and its success in preventing or deterring deforestation. Hence, why anti-deforestation policies succeed or not remains unclear. Against this background, this paper studies the literature evaluating the effectiveness of anti-deforestation policies. 264 empirical evaluations are reviewed and synthetized in order to reveal the theory of change (ToC) that emerges from the current practice of forest policy evaluation. This allows visualising what is described in the forest policy evaluation literature in terms of the causal relations and the conditions at stake for a policy instrument to combat deforestation successfully. It also reveals those conditions that are under-researched. In other words, the paper depicts what makes forest policies successful in evaluators' minds. Our results expose the context-specificity of the effectiveness of anti-deforestation policies and confirm the mixed-success that has been characterizing them. They also indicate that policy evaluators tend to focus on the policy implementation phase rather on than on its design, and correspondingly tend to focus their evaluations on downstream outcomes. More specifically, how implementation generates a social acceptance of and compliance to the policy rules is among the most commonly reported conditions. Likewise, results also indicate that conditions needed to deliver environmental outcomes differ from those needed to deliver social and economic outcomes, which suggests considering multi-purposes policies with care. Among most notable under-developed fields of investigation are the role of improved information on local populations' behaviour with respect to deforestation, the effect of generating social and economic benefits on environmental outcomes, and the effectiveness of anti-deforestation policies in terms of final environmental impacts (biodiversity, carbon sequestration and watershed protection). These analyses aim at providing researchers with directions for research programming, as well as providing policy designers with indications about conditions for policy effectiveness.

Keywords: Deforestation; Forest degradation; Forest policy; Theory of change; Policy evaluation; Causal relations; Effectiveness; Conditions of effectiveness; Research synthesis; Research biases; Meta-database; REDD+ (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-env
Date: 2019-03-22
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02090658
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