Modeling conditions for effective and equitable land use governance in tropical forest frontiers

Related GLP Member: Marius von Essen, Eric Lambin

Deforestation and degradation driven by unsustainable agricultural expansion remain pressing global challenges. Over the past two decades, a variety of governance efforts to reduce deforestation and degradation in the tropics have emerged. Assessing if and under which conditions interventions are effective and equitable, however, is challenging given their long implementation times and methodological limitations. Here, we use an agent-based model to assess effectiveness, equity, and transaction costs of four archetypal governance interventions (weak regulation to natural resource access, command and control, supply chain sustainability, and multi-stakeholder coalitions) under different environmental and social conditions. We find that all interventions are effective in reducing deforestation, albeit to varying degrees, and not all are equitable. Intervention performance varies significantly across conditions, and on average, multi-stakeholder coalitions provide the best balance between effectiveness and equity. Policymakers therefore need to consider the local context and potential effectiveness-equity trade-offs when designing interventions to reduce deforestation and degradation.