Citizens, governments, and donors are increasingly demanding better evidence
on the effectiveness of development policies and programs. Efforts to ensure such
accountability in the forest sector confront the challenge that the results may take years,
even decades, to materialize, while forest-related interventions usually last only a short
period. This article reviews the broad interdisciplinary literature assessing forest conservation
and management impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation,
and poverty alleviation in developing countries. It emphasizes the importance
of indicators and identifies disconnects between a rapidly growing body of research
based on quasi-experimental designs and studies taking a more critical, ethnographic
approach. The article also highlights a relative lack of attention on longer-term impacts
in both of these areas of scholarship. We conclude by exploring research frontiers in the
assessment of the impacts of forest-related interventions with long incubation periods,
notably the development of predictive proxy indicators (PPIs).
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