aerial of amazon forest and river

Comparing the impacts of natural climate solution interventions


Natural climate solutions (NCS) are conservation, restoration and improved land management interventions that increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in landscapes and wetlands across the globe. NCS interventions have been implemented all around the world using a diverse variety of approaches. For example, conservation interventions have included approaches like the designation of parks, the titling of indigenous territories, the support to community-based natural resource management, the implementation of economic incentives for forest conservation as well as market-based interventions like eco-certification and offsets programs. Chile and several countries in the Amazon region have pioneered efforts to address deforestation and even generate new forest cover, but these efforts have not been systematically evaluated. However, policymakers, practitioners, and funders do not know which interventions are most effective, nor how efficacy varies across contexts. Without rigorous and comparable evidence, it is often unclear if and how to leverage NCS investments in efforts to limit global warming.

To sustain and expand NCS investments in these regions and the rest of the world, we are partnering with Conservation International to advance understanding of the relative effectiveness of different NCS interventions implemented in a variety of contexts.


This project will examine and evaluate natural climate solutions (NCS) interventions in different regions. We will first develop a conceptual framework to rigorously compare the effectiveness of different natural climate solutions. This framework will rely on state-of-the-art statistical methods applied to remote sensing and rich spatial datasets, and would be applicable to different scales, from regional to global. It will help inform which policies work when, as well as identify ways to better target and combine policies across a diverse landscape. 

We will test this framework in two case studies: 1) evaluating the relative impact of different conservation policies on avoided deforestation and carbon emissions in the Amazon and 2) evaluating the impact of two prominent Chilean reforestation subsidy programs, focusing on trade-offs between aboveground carbon sequestration, natural forest extent, and the socioeconomic characteristics of the entities receiving subsidies.

We are working with CI to identify ripe opportunities to disseminate findings and engage decision-makers such as international donors, governments and conservation practitioners. We will explore opportunities for new approaches to spatial planning and identify synergies for NCS interventions in the studied regions and beyond.


This project is in collaboration with Conservation International (CI) as part of the Arnhold UC Santa Barbara-Conservation International Climate Solutions Collaborative. UCSB and CI launched this initiative through generous support from John Arnold (UCSB '75) to unify their demonstrated expertise and networks to conduct cutting-edge applied research to yield tangible, progressive solutions and propel the careers of emerging environmental professionals.