Can protected areas reduce the vulnerability to climate related disasters?

The main goal of this project is to test whether protected areas (PAs) reduce the likelihood of climate related disasters such as floods, landslides and storms, in Costa Rica and Honduras. This evaluation study is expected to provide empirical evidence on the role of PAs in providing hydrological services to avoid the occurrence and damages of floods and landslides as a consequence of extreme weather events.

The loss of natural habitats worldwide is one of the main causes of the decline in ecosystem services. Natural habitat protection has been promoted to protect and maintain the benefits from ecosystems, such as regulation of the hydrological cycle, soil erosion control and storm protection ecosystem services that help to diminish the damages of floods and landslides in local populations. However, whether protected areas (PA) can reduce the likelihood of such disasters is less clear. In this sense, it is important for the national PA implementation agencies to better understand the ecosystem services provided by the policies they apply. This would allow them to have better information for establishing future PAs to benefit from the hydrological services provided by forest, mangroves and wetlands, and to strengthen the justification for implementing conservation policies.


To address this, this project aims:

  1. To estimate the effect of PA in reducing the likelihood of flood and landslides in Costa Rica and Honduras
  2. To test whether the effects of protected areas conservation policies vary according to the biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics of the areas where they are implemented (heterogeneous treatment effects). Specifically, we would like to test whether protected areas are more effective in reducing the likelihood of disasters: (i) close to urban areas or close to rural areas, (ii) in low income areas or in high income areas, and (iii) in areas with high or low threat of deforestation
  3. To help to identify additional ecosystem services supplied by PA other than carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat, which are most commonly considered by decision makers.
Project status
Financed by
Environment for Development initiative
Project | 23 February 2018