To really test PES, Jayachandran and her team went to the Hoima and Kibaale districts of Uganda – where deforestation for charcoal production is rampant – and randomly sorted 121 villages into two categories: those that would be offered money for not cutting their trees and those who wouldn’t. In the former, the local NGO Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT), offered a contract to pay local landowners 700,000 Ugandan shillings (about $28 in 2012, or about £21 today) per hectare of forest left uncut annually. Locals could join up or keep cutting while CSWCT would monitor the progress to make sure those who signed on were compliant.
After two years, the team analysed progress. In villages where locals were paid to keep trees standing, the deforestation rate was 4.2%. While this was high, it was nowhere near the rate in those villages that weren’t paid, which saw 9.1% of forest cover destroyed in just two years. Compared to business-as-usual, the PES programme significantly slowed forest loss. The result was even more impressive given that only about a third of locals approached by CSWCT signed on.The circular economy enters the world stage, with Finland leading the wayKirsi Sormunen and Kimmo Tiilikainen
“I’m not surprised that the programme reduced deforestation, but I am very surprised by how big the impact was,” said Jayachandran. She expected that the team might find that less deforestation in the selected villages would lead to more deforestation in outlying areas, an economic problem known as “leakage”. But satellite imagery showed no evidence of this.
There ARE ways to stop deforestation – someone has to care!