Better evidence for a better world

Campbell evidence and gap maps

Coming soon – Campbell EGMs are a new evidence synthesis product. Plain language summaries of our EGMs will be published on this website. The interactive EGMs and full EGM reports will be available in our journal on the Wiley Online Library platform: click here.



Learn more about Campbell EGMs

Other EGMs

Campbell has produced maps on other topics, sometimes in partnership with other organisations.



See our other EGMs
Effects of decentralized forest management (DFM) on deforestation and poverty in low- and middle-income countries

Additional Info

  • Authors: Cyrus Samii, Laura Paler, Larry Chavis, Parashar Kulkarni, Matthew Lisiecki
  • Published date: 2014-12-19
  • Coordinating group(s): International Development
  • Type of document: Review, Plain language summary
  • Library Image: Library Image
  • See the full review: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.4073/csr.2014.10
  • Records available in: English, Spanish
  • English:

    PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY

    Decentralized forest management programs can reduce deforestation rates but there is limited evidence to assess poverty outcomes

    Decentralized forest management programs reduce deforestation rates, although the effects may be modest. More research is needed to assess whether such programs reduce the income of poor households.

    What is this review about?

    An estimated 10–17 per cent of global carbon emissions are the result of deforestation. Forests also act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon emissions from other sources. Therefore, preserving natural forests is an important component of managing climate change.

    Decentralized forest management programs transfer the responsibility and authority for managing forests (for example, deciding which areas are protected and which areas can be exploited) from central governments to local authorities. Such programs have the primary goal of reducing deforestation, but there is debate as to whether they can meet this goal while also reducing poverty.

    This review examines the evidence for the effects of decentralized forest management programs on deforestation and poverty outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

    What is the aim of this review?

    This Campbell Systematic Review examines the impact of decentralized forest management on deforestation and poverty in developing countries. The review summarises evidence from eight quantitative studies (quasi-experimental studies with statistical adjustment for bias) and four qualitative studies.

    What studies are included?

    To be eligible for inclusion, studies were required to be conducted in LMICs and evaluate a decentralized forest management program, defined as a program where the formal responsibility for forest management passes from centralized to local authorities. Studies were included if they assessed any type of poverty outcome for populations living near natural growth forest and/or any type of deforestation outcome.

    The studies reporting the effects on forest conservation were conducted in Bolivia, India, Kenya and Nepal; the studies reporting the effects on human welfare were conducted in Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda.

    What are the effects of decentralised forest management on deforestation and poverty?

    Decentralized forest management programs reduce deforestation rates on average, but the effects are modest.

    Decentralized forest management programs increase average household income in the affected community, but little evidence is available on the effects of such programs on the incomes of poor households. One study from Uganda suggests that decentralised forest management programs may reduce the income of poorer households.

    How do institutional and social conditions affect the outcomes of decentralised forest management programs?

    No quantitative evidence was found to assess how institutional and social conditions affect decentralized forest management programs. Qualitative studies show that some programs do not have the institutional capacity to be effective. Democratically accountable programs may have larger effects, but only if the community supports conservation goals.

    How has this intervention worked?

    Decentralized forest management programs are based on the assumption that local authorities have better knowledge of local conditions, leading to more efficient forest policies that are more responsive to community interests. Local authorities may also have better incentives for sustainable forest management.

    What do the findings of this review mean?

    Proponents of decentralized forest management programs suggest that such programs can contribute to both environmental and poverty reduction outcomes. This review showed that little research has been conducted on the poverty reduction benefits of such programs, and no studies have jointly evaluated both conservation and poverty outcomes. Research is also lacking in the countries where decentralised forest management has the most potential, such as Indonesia and Brazil.

    How up-to-date is this review?

    The review authors searched for qualitative and quantitative studies up to August 2013, and conducted a second search for relevant qualitative studies up to November 2013.

  • Spanish:

    Click on 'Download PDF' on the right to view the plain language summary in Spanish.

Select language:

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY

Decentralized forest management programs can reduce deforestation rates but there is limited evidence to assess poverty outcomes

Decentralized forest management programs reduce deforestation rates, although the effects may be modest. More research is needed to assess whether such programs reduce the income of poor households.

What is this review about?

An estimated 10–17 per cent of global carbon emissions are the result of deforestation. Forests also act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon emissions from other sources. Therefore, preserving natural forests is an important component of managing climate change.

Decentralized forest management programs transfer the responsibility and authority for managing forests (for example, deciding which areas are protected and which areas can be exploited) from central governments to local authorities. Such programs have the primary goal of reducing deforestation, but there is debate as to whether they can meet this goal while also reducing poverty.

This review examines the evidence for the effects of decentralized forest management programs on deforestation and poverty outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

What is the aim of this review?

This Campbell Systematic Review examines the impact of decentralized forest management on deforestation and poverty in developing countries. The review summarises evidence from eight quantitative studies (quasi-experimental studies with statistical adjustment for bias) and four qualitative studies.

What studies are included?

To be eligible for inclusion, studies were required to be conducted in LMICs and evaluate a decentralized forest management program, defined as a program where the formal responsibility for forest management passes from centralized to local authorities. Studies were included if they assessed any type of poverty outcome for populations living near natural growth forest and/or any type of deforestation outcome.

The studies reporting the effects on forest conservation were conducted in Bolivia, India, Kenya and Nepal; the studies reporting the effects on human welfare were conducted in Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda.

What are the effects of decentralised forest management on deforestation and poverty?

Decentralized forest management programs reduce deforestation rates on average, but the effects are modest.

Decentralized forest management programs increase average household income in the affected community, but little evidence is available on the effects of such programs on the incomes of poor households. One study from Uganda suggests that decentralised forest management programs may reduce the income of poorer households.

How do institutional and social conditions affect the outcomes of decentralised forest management programs?

No quantitative evidence was found to assess how institutional and social conditions affect decentralized forest management programs. Qualitative studies show that some programs do not have the institutional capacity to be effective. Democratically accountable programs may have larger effects, but only if the community supports conservation goals.

How has this intervention worked?

Decentralized forest management programs are based on the assumption that local authorities have better knowledge of local conditions, leading to more efficient forest policies that are more responsive to community interests. Local authorities may also have better incentives for sustainable forest management.

What do the findings of this review mean?

Proponents of decentralized forest management programs suggest that such programs can contribute to both environmental and poverty reduction outcomes. This review showed that little research has been conducted on the poverty reduction benefits of such programs, and no studies have jointly evaluated both conservation and poverty outcomes. Research is also lacking in the countries where decentralised forest management has the most potential, such as Indonesia and Brazil.

How up-to-date is this review?

The review authors searched for qualitative and quantitative studies up to August 2013, and conducted a second search for relevant qualitative studies up to November 2013.

Library Image

See the full review

Contact us