5 years ago

Titling land to conserve forests: The case of Cuyabeno Reserve in Ecuador

We used a mixed-methods approach to assess the impact of a ‘forest-friendly’ titling program on previously untitled lands surrounding the Cuyabeno Reserve in Ecuador. Such programs are part of an increasing trend in tenure formalization intended to simultaneously strengthen tenure security, reduce deforestation, and open the door for more incentive-based conservation programs. We use quasi-experimental methods to estimate and compare the impact of titling on forest outcomes for lands that are titled with certain limitations on the ownership bundle of rights, alongside lands titled but without these restrictions. This quantitative analysis is paired with results from a series of focus group interviews with landowners to understand their experiences with the titling effort, particularly tied to the restrictions. Our results point to a statistically significant impact of titling with restrictions on reducing deforestation by 34%, whereas titling without such restrictions resulted in no significant effect. When we explore impacts according to annual deforestation rates, the results suggest that titled lands are buffered from the surges in deforestation that otherwise occurred on untitled lands and more broadly across the region. While ‘forest-friendly’ restrictions had more of an effect on forest outcomes than titled lands without, the insights shared by landowners suggest important concerns about equity and unjust burdens on current households that could risk livelihood options for future generations.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0959378016302126

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