Most evaluations of the effectiveness of PAs have relied on indirect estimates based on comparisons between protected and unprotected areas. Such methods can be biased when protection is not randomly assigned. We add to the growing literature on the impact of PAs by answering the following research questions: What is the impact of Chilean PAs on deforestation which occurred between 1986 and 2011? How do estimates of the impact of PAs vary when using only public land as control units? We show that the characteristics of the areas in which protected and unprotected lands are located differ significantly. To satisfactorily estimate the effects of PAs, we use matching methods to define adequate control groups, but not as in previous research.We construct control groups using separately nonprotected private areas and non-protected public lands.We find that PAs avoid deforestation when using unprotected private lands as valid controls, however results show no impact when the control group is based only on unprotected public land. Different land management regimes, and higher levels of enforcement inside public lands may reduce the opportunity to add additional conservation benefits when the national systems for PAs are based on the protection of previously unprotected public lands. Given that not all PAs are established to avoid deforestation, results also admit the potential for future studies to include other outcomes including forest degradation (not just deforestation), biodiversity, wildlife, primary forests (not forests in general), among others.
Avaliable at: https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/fc_research/5/