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CIFOR Blog Questions Effectiveness of Protected Areas

24 August 2011: POLEX, a publication on forest policy of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), highlights the results of a recent study on the effectiveness of protected areas in conserving biodiversity, compared to community-managed forests. Porter-Bolland et al., authors of the study published in Forest Ecology and Management, found that community-managed forests performed better than protected areas in having lower annual deforestation rates and experienced less variation in rates of forest cover loss.

Terry Sunderland, author of this issue of POLEX and a senior scientist at CIFOR, questions the effectiveness of "fortress conservation," where human activities are strictly controlled or curtailed from a protected area. He highlights that Porter-Bolland et al.'s study concludes that protected areas may not be the most effective means of biodiversity conservation, and are not the most socially equitable or economically advantageous means of preservation. He states that this reinforces past studies that show that greater rule-making autonomy at the local level are associated with better forest management and livelihood benefits.

Sunderland stresses the need to incorporate local people into the management of natural resources, from design to implementation, particularly with the onset of projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD). [Publication: POLEX - How Effective are Protected Areas in Conserving Biodiversity?]