In recent years, shade coffee certification programs have attracted increasing attention from conservation and development organizations. Certification programs offer an opportunity to link environmental and economic goals by providing a premium price to producers and thereby contributing to forest conservation. However, the significance of the conservation efforts of certification programs remains unclear because of a lack of empirical evidence. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a shade coffee certification program on forest conservation. The study was conducted in the Belete-Gera Regional Forest Priority Area in Ethiopia, and remote sensing data of 2005 and 2010 were used to gauge the change of forest area. Using propensity score matching estimation, we found that forests under the coffee certification program were less likely to be deforested than forests without forest coffee. By contrast, the difference in the degree of deforestation between forests with forest coffee but not under the certification program and forests with no forest coffee is statistically insignificant. These results suggest that the certification program has had a large effect on forest protection, decreasing the probability of deforestation by 1.7 percentage points.
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