Garcia, Alberto, Robert Heilmayr. “Conservation impact evaluation using remotely sensed data” (SSRN working paper)
Conservation scientists are increasingly measuring the impacts of conservation interventions by applying quasi-experimental impact evaluation to remotely sensed panel data on land use change. However, these applications come with new challenges. Using Monte Carlo simulations and analytical proofs, we demonstrate that many of the panel econometric models employed for conservation impact evaluation are biased - the significance, magnitude and even direction of estimated effects from many studies are likely incorrect. These errors threaten to undermine the evidence base that underpins conservation policy adoption and design. We review the methods in this burgeoning literature and develop guidance for the design of econometric models quantifying conservation policy effectiveness.
Garcia, Alberto, Robert Heilmayr. “Targeting with non-compliance in Chilean payments for native forest recovery” (New version coming soon)
Widespread reforestation has become an important part of global efforts to address the intertwined challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss, and rural poverty. In response to concerns that plantations of exotic species may undermine objectives of increased carbon storage, biodiversity, and community involvement, some policies have sought to reforest with native species. We evaluate land cover impacts of a Chilean federal program that pays landowners to restore their property with native species and prioritizes program co-benefits such as the engagement of rural smallholders and indigenous communities. We find that the program increased vegetation cover on beneficiary properties, however, program compliance was rather low. While beneficiaries with prioritized social characteristics provided additional forest cover benefits, these characteristics were negatively associated with compliance, undermining true win-wins. Further, these characteristics were associated with reduced probability of extensionist assistance, which was a major determinant of compliance. This paper highlights key differences in targeting in payments for reforestation in contrast to avoided deforestation.