This grant will support attempts to improve forest conservation policy in Mexico and other developing countries. Mexico has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, losing nearly eight percent of its forests between 1990 and 2000. In an attempt to mitigate these losses, 30 Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) forests, have been established - the third highest number in the developing world. FSC certification was heavily promoted by the government, the World Bank and NGOs as a means of reducing deforestation and motivating forest conservation.
Assessments of the effects of FSC certification have usually been limited to the immediate regions of the forest in question. Without broader comparisons that track whether deforestation activity has simply moved to a different area, it is impossible to say whether implementation of this market-based certification process has had the broad effect of reducing rates of deforestation. Resources for the Future intents to rigorously evaluate the effects of FSC certification on deforestation in Mexico and develop recommendations for strengthening the benefits of the program. Foundation support will enable them to measure the effects of FSC over its history of implementation in Mexico using detailed geospatial data and statistical techniques that control for the problems of self-selection (the tendency for relatively clean producers to seek certification) and leakage (tendency of conservation policies targeting one area to displace deforestation to nearby areas).