Evaluating the impacts of a large-scale voluntary REDD+ project in Sierra Leone

Malan, Mandy, Carmenta, Rachel ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8607-4147, Gsottbauer, Elisabeth, Hofman, Paul, Kontoleon, Andreas, Swinfield, Tom and Voors, Maarten (2024) Evaluating the impacts of a large-scale voluntary REDD+ project in Sierra Leone. Nature Sustainability, 7 (2). 120–129. ISSN 2398-9629

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Carbon offsets from the REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) framework to protect forests are expected to see a 100-fold increase in market value by 2050. However, independent causal impact evaluations are scarce and only a few studies assess benefits to communities themselves, a core objective of REDD+. Following a pre-analysis plan, we use a before-after-control-intervention (BACI) framework to evaluate the impact of a large-scale voluntary REDD+ project in Sierra Leone—the Gola project. We use a panel of both satellite images and household surveys to provide causal evidence of the impact of the project on local deforestation rates and socioeconomic indicators over the first 5 yr of its implementation. We find that REDD+ slowed deforestation by 30% relative to control communities while not changing economic wellbeing and conservation attitudes. We find suggestive evidence that the programme increased the value of alternative income sources, by shifting labour away from forest-dependent farming activities. A cost-to-carbon calculation shows that REDD+ led to 340,000 tCO2 in avoided emissions per year, with an estimated cost of US$1.12 per averted tCO2. Our study contributes to developing an evidence base for voluntary REDD+ projects and offers a robust approach to carry out BACI assessments.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Gola Rainforest Conservation LG (not for profit company), BirdLife International, E. Mokuwa, P. Richards and M. Ross for their collaboration in this project; GCRF QR at the University of Cambridge and NWO for financial support (grant VI.Vidi.191.154 received by M.V.).
Uncontrolled Keywords: geography, planning and development,food science,nature and landscape conservation,management, monitoring, policy and law,global and planetary change,ecology,renewable energy, sustainability and the environment,urban studies,sdg 8 - decent work and economic growth ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3305
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: University of East Anglia Schools > Faculty of Science > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Global Environmental Justice
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2024 01:38
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:25
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/94115
DOI: 10.1038/s41893-023-01256-9


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