Local conservation approaches show best results

Conservation initiatives led by local and indigenous groups to protecting the Amazon rainforest can be more effective than government schemes, according to new research.

The ‘Keep it local’ approach to protecting the Amazon rainforest can be just as effective as schemes led by the government – and in some cases, even more effective, according to new research from the University of Cambridge, the University of East Anglia and the Peruvian environment ministry.

These findings are important given the widespread political resistance to handing over control of forests and other natural resources to local communities.

The research assessed the effectiveness of different approaches to conservation in the Peruvian Amazon between 2006 and 2011. While all approaches were effective at protecting the rainforest compared with non-protected areas of land, the areas protected by local and indigenous communities were, on average, more effective than those protected by the government, according to the University of Cambridge.

“Our results that these diverse types of protected areas were effective at reducing deforestation and forest degradation compared to non-protected areas are very encouraging,” said lead author Judith Schleicher, from Cambridge’s Department of Geography.

The larger reduction in deforestation and forest degradation in areas led by indigenous communities and grassroots groups suggests that local ownership and support for protecting the Peruvian Amazon can be a particularly effective approach.

“Local conservation initiatives deserve more political, financial and legal support than they currently receive,” added Schleicher.


Image credit: Joseph King via Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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