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Guyana manages an estimated 5.3 million hectares of old-growth tropical forests, 29% of its total forest area, for timber extraction. Individuals and companies can apply for time-limited leases that allocate access, management, and extraction rights for timber through a concession system. In many tropical regions, including Guyana, a lack of integrated land use planning often leads to overlapping extractive and forest use rights for logging and mining. Overlapping land rights in turn create uncertainty and limit investments toward sustainable forest management, affecting deforestation and forest degradation rates. In this study, we use matched fixed-effect and difference-in-differences panel data models to quantify the impact of establishing logging tenure on deforestation and forest degradation. We assess the impact of different tenure use allocations for Guyana, a high forest cover low deforestation country, utilizing a 31-year (1990–2020) remotely sensed annual time series dataset on deforestation and forest degradation. The rate of forest loss (deforestation plus degradation) in public forests managed by the State with no authorized use allocation activities were 0.062% per year. The issuance of timber concessions increases the probability of deforestation by 33.5% and forest degradation by 8.9% compared to unallocated state forests. Forests with overlapping use rights for timber and mining had a 156% and 19.1% higher probability of deforestation and degradation relative to unallocated public forests and forests where only timber harvesting was authorized, respectively. We conclude that overlapping land use allocations result in conflicting resource use strategies that ultimately will limit sustainability and climate goals related to reducing deforestation and degradation.

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