When residents take charge of their rainforests, fewer trees die

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When the government gives citizens a personal stake in forested land, trees don’t disappear as quickly and environmental harm slows down.

A new study from The Ohio State University has found that policies called “community forest concessions” have proven effective in preserving Guatemalan rainforests.

While giving forest property and management rights to residents doesn’t eliminate deforestation, it appears to lower it as much as almost 8 percent compared to areas without community oversight and ownership.

“Globally, there’s a huge debate about how to conserve these rainforests and this work shows that these policies slow down aggressive deforestation that harms the environment,” said study co-author Brent Sohngen, a professor of agricultural, environmental and developmental economics at Ohio State.

“Most government-protected zones are protected in name only, so it’s important to find new ways of slowing deforestation.”

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