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Tropical Deforestation, Tenure Insecurity, and Unsustainability

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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 land, 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. FOR. SCI. 47(4):497–509.

Keywords: Amazon; Faustmann; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; land tenure; natural resource management; natural resources; sustainability; tropical deforestation

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Economics Department of Economics & Finance, University of Wyoming, P.O. Box 3985 Laramie, WY, 82071-3985, Phone: +1 (307) 766-2178; Fax: +1 (307) 766 5090 2: Assistant Lecturer Department of Economics & Finance, University of Wyoming, P.O. Box 3985 Laramie, WY, USA, 82071-3985, Phone: +1 (307) 766 2178; Fax: +1 (307) 766 5090

Publication date: 2001-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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