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Program Pays Ugandan Farmers to Not Cut Trees


In this Jan. 28, 2016 photo, Gerald Mukisa, a caretaker at the forest who also acts as a tour guide, poses in the Zika Forest, near Entebbe, Uganda.


Researchers say a pilot program that paid Uganda landowners to not cut down trees, successfully reduced deforestation.

For the program, researchers from Northwestern University and Porticus, a Dutch organization, studied 121 villages over two years. In 60 villages they offered landowners $28 a year for every 10,000 square meters of forest they did not cut down.

To collect their data, the researchers used interviews, site inspections and satellite images to monitor forests around the villages.

Uganda had one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. It loses about 2.7 percent of their forest each year between 2005 and 2010.

The study, published in the journal “Science,” found that villages in the payment program had saved 55,000 square meters of forestland more than other villages. In addition, there was not a rush to cut down trees after the program ended.

However, because the study was small compared to the size of the timber and charcoal markets, researchers were not able to see its effect on the markets. Without that information, they were not able to demonstrate that reduced deforestation in the study region didn't lead to increased deforestation elsewhere.

Reasons for the program

The researchers hope that this study will provide options for governments trying to meet their carbon emission targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

A carbon emission is a gas caused by the combustion of carbon. The gas is released into the atmosphere, and is considered harmful to the environment. Researchers say more carbon emissions contribute to global warming.

The Union of Concerned Scientists say deforestation causes about 10% of global carbon emissions. They say that not cutting down trees is one of the least expensive ways of capturing carbon. Trees absorb carbon and need it to grow. This helps keep the carbon levels in the air low.

Seema Jayachandran is one of the study leaders from Northwestern. She feels that the program will be most effective in partnership with others to address the reasons for deforestation.

One example could be helping people in cities get stoves, so they are not cooking with charcoal. Another idea is teaching farmers how to grow more food in less space, so they don't need to clear as much forest for land to grow food.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Ben Thompson reported this story for VOANews.com. Phil Dierking adapted his report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Do you think landowners should be paid to not cut down their trees? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

deforestation - n. the act or result of cutting down or burning all the trees in an area​

combustion - n. a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen combines with other substances to produce heat and usually light​

charcoal - n. a hard black material that is made by burning wood with a small amount of air​

timber - n. wood that is used to make something​

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