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The impact of strictly protected areas in a deforestation hotspot


Hernandez, S and Barnes, MD and Duce, S and Adams, VM, The impact of strictly protected areas in a deforestation hotspot, Conservation Science and Practice Article e479. ISSN 2578-4854 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2021 The Authors. Conservation Science and Practice published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology Conservation Science and Practice. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: doi:10.1111/csp2.479


Protected areas are often thought of as a key conservation strategy for avoiding deforestation and retaining biodiversity; therefore, it is crucial to know how effective they are at achieving this purpose. Using a case study from Queensland, Australia, we identified and controlled for bias in allocating strictly protected areas (IUCN Class I and II) and evaluated their impact (in terms of avoiding deforestation) using statistical matching methods. Over the 30 years between 1988 and 2018, approximately 70,481 km2 of native forest was cleared in the study region. Using statistical matching, we estimated that 10.5% (1,447 km2) of Category I and II (strict) protected areas would have been cleared in the absence of protection. Put differently, 89.5% of strictly protected areas are unlikely to have been cleared, even if they were never protected. While previous studies have used statistical matching at a country or state level, we conducted an analysis that allows regional comparison across a single State. Our research indicates that strictly protected areas are marginally effective at preventing deforestation, and this likely due to biases in establishing protected areas on unproductive land.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:causal impact, counterfactual, habitat loss, matching, Queensland
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental protection frameworks (incl. economic incentives)
UTAS Author:Adams, VM (Associate Professor Vanessa Adams)
ID Code:145514
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2021-07-25
Last Modified:2021-09-08
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