Economic Incentives for Rain Forest Conservation Across Scales

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Science  09 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5472, pp. 1828-1832
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5472.1828

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Globally, tropical deforestation releases 20 to 30% of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Conserving forests could reduce emissions, but the cost-effectiveness of this mechanism for mitigation depends on the associated opportunity costs. We estimated these costs from local, national, and global perspectives using a case study from Madagascar. Conservation generated significant benefits over logging and agriculture locally and globally. Nationally, however, financial benefits from industrial logging were larger than conservation benefits. Such differing economic signals across scales may exacerbate tropical deforestation. The Kyoto Protocol could potentially overcome this obstacle to conservation by creating markets for protection of tropical forests to mitigate climate change.

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