Tropical Deforestation, Tenure, Insecurity, and Unsustainability

Forest Science, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 497-509, 2001

Posted: 25 Mar 2004

See all articles by Edward B. Barbier

Edward B. Barbier

Colorado State University, Fort Collins - Department of Economics

Joanne C. Burgess

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Economics, Students; University of Wyoming - College of Business - Department of Economics and Finance

Abstract

This article explores the effects of tenure insecurity on the migrant's decision to convert tropical frontier forestland to unsustainable agriculture. We develop and extend a Faustmann model to explore the effects of insecure property rights and unsustainability on the migrant's decision to convert tropical forestland to crop production, to maintain it for long-term timber production, or to mine the forest for timber and then abandon the land. We then provide a numerical simulation of the migrant's land-use decision based on data from the Amazon to compare the returns to mahogany plantation as opposed to agricultural conversion or timber mining, increasing insecurity of land tenure leads to a decline in the value of timber relative to agricultural production and thus creating an incentive for forest conversion. However, when land is easily degraded and tenure insecurity is high, timber mining and land abandonment may be a particular problem. Finally, we examine the role of private and government investment in establishing and maintaining secure land tenure. Once government arrives at the frontier, it can encourage sustainable timber production through providing secure harvesting rights and setting an optimal concession fee.

Keywords: Amazon, Faustmann, Land tenure, sustainability, tropical deforestation

Suggested Citation

Barbier, Edward B. and Burgess, Joanne C., Tropical Deforestation, Tenure, Insecurity, and Unsustainability. Forest Science, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 497-509, 2001 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=519583

Edward B. Barbier (Contact Author)

Colorado State University, Fort Collins - Department of Economics ( email )

Fort Collins, CO 80523-1771
United States

Joanne C. Burgess

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Fort Collins, CO 80523-1771
United States

University of Wyoming - College of Business - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

P.O. Box 3985
Laramie, WY 82071-3985
United States

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