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Conserv Biol. 2013 Feb;27(1):155-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01930.x. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

Linking management effectiveness indicators to observed effects of protected areas on fire occurrence in the Amazon rainforest.

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School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 440 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Management-effectiveness scores are used widely by donors and implementers of conservation projects to prioritize, track, and evaluate investments in protected areas. However, there is little evidence that these scores actually reflect the capacity of protected areas to deliver conservation outcomes. We examined the relation between indicators of management effectiveness in protected areas and the effectiveness of protected areas in reducing fire occurrence in the Amazon rainforest. We used data collected with the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) scorecard, adopted by some of the world's largest conservation organizations to track management characteristics believed to be crucial for protected-area effectiveness. We used the occurrence of forest fires from 2000 through 2010 as a measure of the effect of protected areas on undesired land-cover change in the Amazon basin. We used matching to compare the estimated effect of protected areas with low versus high METT scores on fire occurrence. We also estimated effects of individual protected areas on fire occurrence and explored the relation between these effects and METT scores. The relations between METT scores and effects of protected areas on fire occurrence were weak. Protected areas with higher METT scores in 2005 did not seem to have performed better than protected areas with lower METT scores at reducing fire occurrence over the last 10 years. Further research into the relations between management-effectiveness indicators and conservation outcomes in protected areas seems necessary, and our results show that the careful application of matching methods can be a suitable method for that purpose.

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