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Policy impacts on deforestation: lessons learned from past experiences to inform new initiatives


This report aims to provide lessons to inform US and international policymakers by analyzing dominant influences on deforestation and degradation.

National and international efforts within the last few decades to reduce forest loss, while having some impact, have failed to substantially slow the loss of the world’s forests.

Climate change policies and policies containing incentives for REDD may mobilize new funds for forest conservation, including for addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. Climate-related incentives for REDD are likely to be performance-based, i.e., to emphasize the measurement, reporting, and verification of all results. The implementation of this emphasis, alongside the introduction of new financial incentives, could increase such policies’ impacts on forest loss relative to the past.

Policy effectiveness, efficiency, and equity can increase if we learn lessons from the past about what drives and what inhibits deforestation and degradation. It is in the interest of any REDD program to understand what has worked in reducing deforestation and degradation and what has not, as well as the reasons for observed differences in outcomes. Investments and policies can then more effectively embrace and extend success while reducing risks of further failures.

The paper studies not only forest-focused policies, but also other policies that directly or indirectly influence forest loss, all in light of relevant non-policy factors such as trends in commodity prices. It provides examples of previous policies to draw lessons from successes and failures, then links those observations about the past to the decisions current policymakers must soon make within ongoing climate policy deliberations.

Read Policy impacts on deforestation: lessons learned from past experiences to inform new initiatives.