The Impacts of World Bank Development Projects on Sites of High Biodiversity Importance
Feb 1, 2016
Graeme M. Buchanan, Bradley C. Parks, Paul F. Donald, Brian F. O'Donnell, Daniel Runfola, John P. Swaddle, Lukasz Tracewski, Stuart H.M. Butchart
Buchanan, Graeme M., Bradley C. Parks, Paul F. Donald, Brian F. O'Donnell, Daniel Runfola, John P. Swaddle, Lukasz Tracewski, and Stuart H.M. Butchart. 2016. The Impacts of World Bank Development on Sites of High Biodiversity Importance. AidData Working Paper #20. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.
Update: A revised version of this paper has been published in the Journal of Environment & Development.
The impacts of international development projects on biodiversity are poorly documented, yet many areas of biodiversity importance are potentially affected by such efforts. We assessed the impact of World Bank development projects on sites of biodiversity significance (Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas; IBAs) using remote sensing derived forest change data and in situ monitoring data on the conservation state (conditions), pressures (threats), and responses (conservation interventions) at these sites. IBAs <10 km from World Bank project locations had a marginally lower rate of forest loss than matched IBAs > 100 km from World Bank project locations and were subjected to lower pressures than matched sites, although there were no differences in conservation state or responses underway. Despite important caveats, these results suggest that World Bank development projects do not have a negative impact on biodiversity, and in some cases might be a benefit to biodiversity. Thus, while more work is needed, our results suggest that international development projects might be compatible with nature conservation objectives if delivered with appropriate safeguards.