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How to tackle deforestation on the ground

How to tackle deforestation on the ground- Systematic analyses help identify efficient policy options

Despite the ongoing international discussions on a REDD+ mechanism, there is still little research on efficient policy options to reduce deforestation on the ground. A systematic approach to identify such policy options is developed in several recently published scientific articles, taking lowland Bolivia as a showcase.
Since 2000, the largest share of deforestation is attributable to the expansion of cattle ranching, followed by mechanized agriculture mainly for soy production and then small-scale agriculture. Though a vast majority of pilot projects under REDD+ is currently targeting smallholders, the studies find that for a significant reduction of deforestation, those land uses causing the largest clearings should be targeted as a priority - in Bolivia particularly cattle ranching, since its expansion threatens forests in many different locations and improvements could be achieved at relatively low costs.

Based on a thorough analysis of deforestation drivers, a variety of specific solutions is identified to reduce the expansion of each of the three main land uses into the Bolivian forests while minimizing the trade-offs between forest conservation and development. Proposed measures applicable to cattle ranching, for example, include the stimulation of higher stocking densities and a focus on large and illegal clearings. The most important task applicable to all land uses is by far the enforcement of land use legislation.

The studies shows a systematic way to identify specific measures to reduce deforestation under different settings of land uses and agents. A general conclusion probably valid for many tropical forest countries is that a focus should be put on legal enforcement, strengthening relevant institutions and tackling those land uses causing large-scale deforestation.

Original papers:
- Müller R, Larrea-Alcázar D, Cuéllar S, Espinoza S (2014): Causas directas de la deforestación reciente (2000-2010) y modelado de dos escenarios futuros en las tierras bajas de Bolivia. Ecología en Bolivia 49(1): 20-34

- Müller R, Pacheco P y Montero JC (2014): The context of deforestation and forest degradation in Bolivia: Drivers, agents and institutions. Occasional paper 108. CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia.

- Müller R, Pistorius T, Rohde S, Gerold G, Pacheco P (2013): Policy options to reduce deforestation based on a systematic analysis of drivers and agents in lowland Bolivia. Land Use Policy 30(1): 895-907.

- Müller R, Müller D, Schierhorn F, Gerold G, Pacheco P (2012): Proximate causes of deforestation in the Bolivian lowlands- an analysis of spatial dynamics. Regional Environmental Change 12(3): 445-459.