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Reductions in deforestation and poverty from decentralized forest management in Nepal

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Johan Oldekop, Professor Mark WhittinghamORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited. Since the 1980’s, decentralized forest management has been promoted as a way to enhance sustainable forest use and reduce rural poverty. Rural communities manage increasing amounts of the world’s forests, yet rigorous evidence using large-N data on whether community-based forest management (CFM) can jointly reduce both deforestation and poverty remains scarce. We estimate the impacts of CFM using a large longitudinal dataset that integrates national census-based poverty measures with high-resolution forest cover change data, and near-complete information on Nepal’s >18,000 community forests. We compare changes in forest cover and poverty from 2000–2012 for subdistricts with or without CFM arrangements, but that are otherwise similar in terms of socioeconomic and biophysical baseline measures. Our results indicate that CFM has, on average, contributed to significant net reductions in both poverty and deforestation across Nepal, and that CFM increases the likelihood of win–win outcomes. We also find that the estimated reduced deforestation impacts of community forests are lower where baseline poverty levels are high, and greater where community forests are larger and have existed longer. These results indicate that greater benefits may result from longer-term investments and larger areas committed to CFM, but that community forests established in poorer areas may require additional support to minimize tradeoffs between socioeconomic and environmental outcomes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Oldekop JA, Sims KRE, Karna BK, Whittingham MJ, Agrawal A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Sustainability

Year: 2019

Volume: 2

Pages: 421-428

Online publication date: 06/05/2019

Acceptance date: 15/03/2019

Date deposited: 24/05/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2398-9629

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0277-3


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