An Evaluation of Protected Area Policies in the European Union

Research Seminars

The European Union designates 26% of its landmass as a protected area. Protected area policies limit economic development to favor the development of biodiversity. The paper paper presented in this Decarbonization Seminar builds a high-resolution remote sensing dataset covering Europe and uses the staggered introduction of protected area policies between 1980 and 2020 to study the selection of land for protection and the causal effect of protection on vegetation cover. The results reveal that levels and trends in vegetation cover as measured by an NDVI index are statistically indistinguishable for protected and unprotected land. Land that is protected later is not greening differently than land that is protected earlier. The authors conclude that European conservation efforts lack ambition because policymakers select land for protection not threatened by development.


University of Mannheim


Prof. ​​​​​​​Mathias Reynaert PhD

​​​​​​​Mathias Reynaert // Toulouse School of Economics

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Junior Research Associate
Nikolas Wölfing
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University of Mannheim


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