Rigorous, objective evaluation of forest conservation policies in developing countries is needed to ensure that the limited financial, human, and political resources devoted to these policies are put to good use. Yet such evaluations remain uncommon. Recent advances in conservation best practices, the widening availability of high-resolution remotely sensed forest-cover data, and the dissemination of geographic information system capacity have created significant opportunities to reverse this trend.
This paper provides a nontechnical introduction and practical guide to a relatively low cost method that relies on remote sensing data to support ex post analysis of forest conservation policies. It describes the defining features of this approach, explains the broad empirical challenges to using it and the main strategies for meeting these challenges, catalogs the literature, discusses the requisite data, provides some practical guidance on modeling choices, and describes in detail two recent studies.
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