The role of property rights in shaping the effectiveness of protected areas and resisting forest loss in the Yucatan Peninsula
The impact of different types of land tenure in areas with high biodiversity and threats of deforestation remains poorly understood. We apply rigorous quasi-experimental methods and detailed geospatial data to assess the role of tenure regimes—communally held lands (specifically, ejidos), private property, and their impact on the effectiveness of protected areas, in reducing forest loss in a biodiversity hotspot- the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. We find evidence that, while protected areas are effective on average, their impact depends on the underlying type of tenure regime and forest, proxied by biomass levels and biome. Protecting communally held land may reduce deforestation, specifically the loss of medium- and high-biomass forests, compared to forests under private property regimes. Our results have important policy implications for the conservation and climate change mitigation efforts on the Yucatan. However, the high variance in forest loss rates among ejidos indicates that other characteristics of ejidos may be central to understanding community-based forest conservation opportunities."