From New Scientist:
In the first study of its kind, Chhatre and Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor compared forest ownership with data on carbon sequestration, which is estimated from the size and number of trees in a forest. Hectare-for-hectare, they found that tropical forest under local management stored more carbon than government-owned forests. There are exceptions, says Chhatre, “but our findings show that we can increase carbon sequestration simply by transferring ownership of forests from governments to communities”.
The New Scientist article is gated, and I got the above quote from Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution. For more, see his post: The economics of local forest management (or another lesson in Elinor Ostrom).
In Reason magazine, Ronald Bailey writes:
Authors Ashwini Chhatre, a geographer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Arun Agrawal, a political scientist specializing in environmental policy at the University of Michigan, offer evidence that governments have a habit of licensing destructive logging and that they often fail to prevent resource rustling. In contrast, Chhatre and Agrawal found, forests owned by local communities are managed for the long term and store lots of carbon dioxide.
As Chhatre told New Scientist, “Our findings show that we can increase carbon sequestration simply by transferring ownership of forests from governments to communities.” Chhatre and Agrawal further suggest that locals are better at managing common pastures, coastal fisheries, and water supplies.
Read the whole article: Who owns the forests?.