The Perils of Broad-based Studies as Evidence of ‘Good Practice’ and ‘Lessons Learned’

There was an interesting report released earlier this year on approaches used to reduce deforestation. It was fairly eye-opening: so much of our ‘conventional wisdom’ was torn apart to demonstrate that success in one instance does not mean we can extrapolate to assume success more generally in other contexts.

For example, there are global arguments for community forest management as critical to reducing deforestation and combatting climate change. For example But a meta-study suggests little to no impact of such a practice (not to say that community forest management shouldn’t be an important part of localizing development). See

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Most importantly: who is conducting the studies? People who drop in and out of communities, or the people who are present long-term, working with communities on sustainable development, learning the history and cultural practices – figuring out what works and what doesn’t in that particular context?

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