Successful implementation of REDD is likely to require the reduction of deforestation rates on a national scale. Designation of new protected areas and strengthening of the current protected area network could form one strategy for achieving this. This review aims to inform the debate through an assessment of the effects of forest designation and management on deforestation rates, and through consideration of the design and management-related factors that influence protected area effectiveness in reducing deforestation. The evidence suggests that protected areas are an effective tool for reducing deforestation within their boundaries. The extent to which this deforestation is displaced to surrounding areas is unclear. Protected areas designated under the more restrictive IUCN categories (I-II) seem to be more effective than those that may include a focus on sustainable use (V-VI). However, there are only a small number of studies on deforestation within category V-VI protected areas. In addition, studies rarely consider the forms of governance that exist within protected areas, or the level of community involvement. Some insight can be gained through analysis of deforestation rates in indigenous lands and community forestry areas, which have also been shown to be successful at reducing deforestation. The evidence suggests that the creation of a protected area network that incorporates all levels of protection, as appropriate for the situation at site level, could be a valuable component of a national REDD strategy. To better inform such planning decisions, further research is required into the factors that influence the effectiveness of protected areas in reducing deforestation; and in particular the interrelationship between protected area status, community involvement and governance.
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