Sun. Feb 28th, 2021

JAKARTA — Paying village in Indonesia to ensure they don’t burn their land for farming appears to have little to no effect on reducing fires, researchers have found. The implication is that without an alternative land-clearing method that’s cheaper, the use of fires to clear land may continue to be widely practiced across Indonesia for the foreseeable future, destroying what’s left of the country’s forests. The large-scale randomized controlled trial was carried out in 75 fire-prone villages in the Bornean province of West Kalimantan in 2018. The team of researchers, from Stanford University, Australian National University and the Indonesian government’s National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K), paid 10 million rupiah ($750 at the time of the trial) to each village up front to help with fire-prevention efforts. If the villages were able to last the fire season without any fires in their areas, they would receive another 150 million rupiah ($10,800), equivalent to around 15% of the average village budget for the year. The project is among the first to test whether conditional cash payments to villages can be successful in curtailing land-clearing fires. To measure whether the financial incentives had real effect on any reduction of fires in the villages, the researchers monitored 200 other villages as a control group, in which they received no financial assistance. They then remotely monitored incidences of fire using satellite imagery. The results showed that 21 of the 75 incentivized villages, or 28%, managed to go fire-free for the entire…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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