In Uganda, many farmers own patches of forest. They often sell trees to timber and charcoal dealers.

It makes financial sense for the farmers. But deforestation is a major source of carbon pollution. So for the climate, it’s better to keep those trees alive. Researchers at Northwestern University looked at whether a monetary incentive could motivate farmers to leave their trees standing.

During the two-year study, Ugandan farmers were paid about eleven dollars a year for each acre of trees they preserved. To Americans, that might not seem like much, but researcher Seema Jayachandran says it’s more than the farmers would get from chopping the trees down.

Jayachandran: “It feels like an opportunity to make them a little bit richer by outbidding that income they’re getting from timber dealers.”

She says it worked. Villages participating in the program had half the deforestation of other villages.

In the U.S., a program to pay landowners to leave their trees standing would be expensive. But climate change is a global problem.

'When thinking about how to reduce emissions, you don't have to just look at home.' Click To Tweet

Jayachandran: “When thinking about how to reduce emissions, you don’t have to just look at home.”

Jayachandran: “When we think about all the options we have to reduce CO2 emissions, this one looks extremely cost effective.”

Reporting credit: Mark Knapp/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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