Titling indigenous communities protects forests in the Peruvian Amazon

Allen Blackman, Leonardo Corral, Eirivelthon Santos Lima, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Developing countries are increasingly decentralizing forest governance by granting indigenous groups and other local communities formal legal title to land. However, the effects of titling on forest cover are unclear. Rigorous analyses of titling campaigns are rare, and related theoretical and empirical research suggests that they could either stemor spur forest damage.We analyze such a campaign in the Peruvian Amazon, where more than 1,200 indigenous communities comprising some 11 million ha have been titled since the mid-1970s. We use community-level longitudinal data derived from highresolution satellite images to estimate the effect of titling between 2002 and 2005 on contemporaneous forest clearing and disturbance. Our results indicate that titling reduces clearing by more than threequarters and forest disturbance by roughly two-thirds in a 2-y window spanning the year title is awarded and the year afterward. These results suggest that awarding formal land titles to local communities can advance forest conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4123-4128
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 18 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Decentralization
  • Deforestation
  • Degradation
  • REDD
  • Tenure reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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