Thinking beyond the canopy

Managing trade-offs between conservation and development at the landscape scale

CIFOR's research helps governments and communities achieve conservation and development objectives.

Conservation efforts mainly concentrate on optimising the management of protected areas, yet most of the world's biodiversity inhabits fragmented landscape mosaics outside protected areas. These landscapes are often subject to a range of land uses. To integrate sustainable use and conservation in tropical landscapes we must recognise the inherent trade-offs between the two.

Interest is increasing in a mechanism that directly addresses the delivery of forest services called 'payments for environmental services' (PES). Through PES, compensation is used as a tool to reconcile difficult trade-offs between the interests of landowners and service users. The potential that PES schemes offer is clear when we compare their success with that of alternative conservation approaches. Sound science is urgently needed to identify even better ways of managing the trade-offs between conservation and development.

Our goal is to shift policy and practice towards conservation and development approaches that are more effective, efficient and equitable. Within seven years, CIFOR's research will influence the policies and practices of at least two significant international conservation organisations and donor agencies, and at least five national governments.

Research themes

  • Developing better methods for assessing environmental services
  • Establishing platforms for negotiating conservation and development trade-offs
  • Understanding the relative effectiveness of institutional frameworks and alternative conservation approaches
More information

Domain leader: Research theme leader: Conservation and development trade-offs
Terry Sunderland

CIFOR'S Strategy 2008-2018: A summary
Key features of CIFOR's strategy for the decade 2008-2018. To learn more about CIFOR's strategic directions and to read the full document visits

Current projects: Conservation and development trade-offs
Locations, project duration, donors, and objectives for current projects within this research theme.