Forest Conservation in the Tropics

Evidence from an impact evaluation of a REDD+ program in Sierra Leone

Public Lecture with Elisabeth Gsottbauer

Protecting tropical forests is key in reducing global warming and loss of biodiversity. One global approach to reduce ongoing forest loss is the implementation of REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programs aimed at conserving forest areas to offset carbon emissions. This research estimates the impacts of the Gola REDD+ project meant to conserve the forested area of the Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone, which provides a range of livelihood activities supporting communities directly surrounding the forest since 2014. Using a difference-in-difference approach, we evaluate environmental and socioeconomic outcomes for a sample of 30 non-project and 29 REDD+ project communities. In total, we have panel data on 651 households in 59 communities including baseline (from 2014) and end-line data collected in 2019. With the help of pre-baseline data from the same communities, collected in 2010, we also provide supporting evidence for the parallel trends assumption. In addition, we elicit prior beliefs of local policy-makers, NGO Staff and experts in economics and conservation about the program’s impact to complement our analysis.

Elisabeth Gsottbauer is a Postdoc in Economics at the Institute of Public Finance, University of Innsbruck. Her main research interests lie in Environmental Economics, Behavioral and Experimental Economics. In her Public Lecture she will present evidence from an impact evaluation of a REDD+ program in Sierra Leone.

Introduction by Beate Littig and Axel Sonntag

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