Journal Article

The Local Impacts of World Bank Development Projects Near Sites of Conservation Significance

Date Published

Jul 13, 2018


Graeme Buchanan, Bradley Parks, Paul Donald, Brian O’Donnell, Daniel Runfola, John Swaddle, Łukasz Tracewski, Stuart Butchart


The Journal of Environment & Development


Buchanan, G., Parks, B., Donald, P., O’Donnell, B., Runfola, D., Swaddle, J., Tracewski, L., & Butchart, S. (2018). The Local Impacts of World Bank Development Projects Near Sites of Conservation Significance. The Journal of Environment & Development, 27(3).

Note: A version of this article was previously published as an AidData Working Paper.


We evaluated the local impacts of World Bank development projects on sites of recognized conservation significance (Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas [IBAs]) using tree cover change data and in situ state, pressure, and response monitoring data. IBAs adjacent to World Bank project locations and a matched set of IBAs distant from World Bank project locations had similar rates of tree loss and similar in situ measurements of conservation outcomes. Thus, we did not detect any significant net negative impacts of World Bank projects on tree cover or conservation outcomes. These results are encouraging because 89% of World Bank projects that are close to IBAs are environmentally sensitive projects (so-called Category A and Category B projects) subjected to the organization’s most stringent safeguards. However, the limitations of our evaluation design do not allow us to rule out the possibility that World Bank projects had positive or negative effects that were undetectable.

Featured Authors

Bradley C. Parks

Bradley C. Parks

Executive Director

Dan Runfola
Research & Evaluation

Dan Runfola

Senior Geospatial Scientist

John Swaddle

John Swaddle

Professor of Biology at the College of William & Mary

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