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Measuring the Effectiveness of Protected Area Networks in Reducing Deforestation: A Rigorous Impact Evaluation Approach

Global efforts to reduce tropical deforestation rely heavily on the establishment of protected areas. Measuring the effectiveness of these areas is difficult because the amount of deforestation that would have occurred in the absence of legal protection cannot be directly observed. Conventional methods of evaluating the effectiveness of protected areas can be biased because protection is not randomly assigned and because protection can induce deforestation spillovers (displacement) to neighboring forests. We demonstrate that estimates of effectiveness can be substantially improved by controlling for biases along dimensions that are observable, measuring spatial spillovers, and testing the sensitivity of estimates to potential hidden biases.


Park Location Affects Forest Protection: Land Characteristics Cause Differences in Park Impacts across Costa Rica

To support conservation planning, we ask whether a park's impact on deforestation rates varies with observable land characteristics that planners could use to prioritize sites. Using matching methods to address bias from non-random location, we find deforestation impacts vary greatly due to park lands' characteristics. Avoided deforestation is greater if parks are closer to the capital city, in sites closer to national roads, and on lower slopes. In allocating scarce conservation resources, policy makers may consider many factors such as the ecosystem services provided by a site and the costs of acquiring the site. Pfaff and Sanchez 2004 claim impact can rise with a focus upon threatened land, all else equal. We provide empirical support in the context of Costa Rica's renowned park system. This insight, alongside information on eco-services and land costs, should guide investments.


    Resource Rents and Management Regimes: The Case of the Western Channel Sole Fishery

    Understanding the economic and biological status of a fishery resource is critical to designing efficient management policies. In one such attempt, this article assesses current and potential rents in the sole fishery in the English Channel. The sole fishery is found to experience rent dissipation due to significant disinvestment in the stock and substantial fleet overcapacity. The analysis also investigates alternative paths of attaining the optimal stock level.


    Using contingent valuation to price ecotourism sites in developing countries

    National parks attract tourists to developing countries. However, there are only rare cases where the full economic rent from tourism in protected areas has been captured by these countries. This severely limits the capacity of developing countries to sustain these protected areas. The present study investigates the efficiency of the current pricing policies of Kakum National Park in Ghana.


    Paying the Price of Sweetening Your Donation: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

    Using a natural field experiment in a recreational site, a public good almost fully dependent on voluntary donations, the authors explored the crowding-out effect of gift rewards. First, they investigated whether receiving a map in appreciation of a donation crowded out prosocial behavior and found no significant effect of giving the map. Second, they explored the effect of adding the map to a treatment designed to increase donations. Interestingly, when the gift was combined with their attempt to trigger reputational and self image motives, the probability of donating decreased significantly, compared to the social reference treatment alone.


    The effects of national parks on local communities’ wages and employment in Costa Rica

    Despite of the clear global environmental benefits of increasing the amount of protected areas, how these conservation policies affect the well being of individuals in nearby localities is still under debate. Using household surveys with highly disaggregated geographic reference, this study explores how national parks have affected wages and unemployment in Costa Rica for the period 2000-2007.


    Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Tell Me Who to Follow!

    Results indicate that visitors look at the behavior of others in deciding if and how much to donate, but partially reject being told what to do. Also, as the social reference moves farther away from average behavior, its effect on the typical visitor is diminished, leading to lower and less frequent donations.


    Anonymity, Reciprocity and Conformity: Evidence from Voluntary Contributions to a Natural Park in Costa Rica

    In a natural field experiment, the authors quantified the importance of anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity through the provision of social reference levels in order to explain voluntary contributions. In the study setting, the effects of the various treatments were small, suggesting that the self-image as an honorable person, irrespective of other people’s opinions, could be an important explanation of contribution behavior. The experiment overall showed no clear evidence that current practice by charitable organizations is inefficient.


    Tanzania: Environmental loss: the cost to Tanzania’s economy (2018)

    Much of Tanzania’s economic growth is dependent on the natural ecosystems that allow the harvesting of resources such as water, timber, and fish from the environment. However, society often regards these resources as infinite and free, which can lead to their over exploitation, resulting in the ecosystems becoming degraded and unhealthy.


    Sustainable energy transitions to support the Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy

    Ethiopia aims to build a green economy and to follow a growth path that fosters sustainable development. Through the development of its Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy, which is based on carbon-neutral growth, it envisions attaining middle-income status by 2025. Improving the productivity of the agricultural sector, protecting forests, expanding the coverage of electric power from renewable sources of energy and transitioning into modern and energy-efficient technologies are the main pillars of Ethiopia’s CRGE strategy. 


    Carrot-or-stick to ‘nudge’ water-wise behaviour

    There are many ways for city utility departments to get people to voluntarily reduce their water use during a time of drought and water shortages. Some are positive, ‘carrot’ approaches; others might be ‘stick’ approaches to enforce certain behaviours. Now, the City of Cape Town is working with behavioural economists to find an evidence-based answer to which methods are most effective.


    Public praise for water-wise behaviour: a lesson for city managers

    A team of behavioural economists has an important message for City of Cape Town’s water managers, who are currently implementing tight water restrictions after three years of drought in the region: if the city publicly praises individuals and households for their water saving efforts, this will get people to voluntarily contribute to even greater water-wise behaviour.


    Community buy-in and conservancies: a Southern African perspective

    Development-focused eco-tourism partnerships between local communities and private enterprises are more likely to succeed if the communities living on the edge of protected areas are able to make direct links between the conservation of an area, and their own tangible benefits, the IUCN’s World Parks Congress heard recently.


    EfD Knowledge Aid

    In a brief interview with UNU-Wider Wisdom Akpalu, Associate Professor of Economics at SUNY-Farmingdale, NY, shares his view on the effectiveness of development knowledge aid and the impact of the “Gothenburg mafia” on Africa. A maybe misleading expression which relates to Wisdom himself and his former PhD colleagues who studied at the Environmental Economics Unit of the Economics Department at Gothenburg University.