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What Drives Household Deforestation Decisions? Insights from the Ecuadorian Lowland Rainforests

1
Thünen Institute of International Forestry and Forest Economics, Leuschnerstrasse 91, 21031 Hamburg, Germany
2
Graduate School Forest and Agricultural Sciences, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Büsgenweg 5, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
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Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Sciences, Institute of Silviculture, TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, 85354 Freising, Germany
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Universidad Regional Amazónica Ikiam, Vía Tena-Muyuna km 7, Tena 150150, Ecuador
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Facultad de Ciencias de la Vida, Universidad Estatal Amazónica, Teniente Hugo Ortiz E45, Puyo 160150, Ecuador
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1131; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111131
Received: 10 August 2020 / Revised: 15 October 2020 / Accepted: 22 October 2020 / Published: 24 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Economics, Policy, and Social Science)
Tropical forests, and more concretely, the Amazon Basin and the Chocó-Darién, are highly affected by deforestation activities. Households are the main land-use decision-makers and are key agents for forest conservation and deforestation. Understanding the determinants of deforestation at the household level is critical for conservation policies and sustainable development. We explore the drivers of household deforestation decisions, focusing on the quality of the forest resources (timber volume potential) and the institutional environment (conservation strategies, titling, and governmental grants). Both aspects are hypothesized to influence deforestation, but there is little empirical evidence. We address the following questions: (i) Does timber availability attract more deforestation? (ii) Do conservation strategies (incentive-based programs in the Central Amazon and protected areas in the Chocó-Darién) influence deforestation decisions in household located outside the areas under conservation? (iii) Does the absence of titling increase the odds of a household to deforest? (iv) Can governmental grants for poverty alleviation help in the fight against deforestation? We estimated a logit model, where the dependent variable reflects whether or not a household cleared forest within the farm. As predictors, we included the above variables and controlled by household-specific characteristics. This study was conducted in the Central Amazon and the Chocó-Darién of Ecuador, two major deforestation fronts in the country. We found that timber volume potential is associated with a higher odds of deforesting in the Central Amazon, but with a lower odds in the Chocó-Darién. Although conservation strategies can influence household decisions, the effects are context-dependent. Households near the incentive-based program (Central Amazon) have a lower odds of deforesting, whereas households near a protected area (Chocó-Darién) showed the opposite effect. Titling is also important for deforestation reduction; more attention is needed in the Chocó-Darién where numerous households are living in untitled lands. Finally, governmental grants for poverty alleviation showed the potential to generate positive environmental outcomes. View Full-Text
Keywords: tropical forest; Amazon; Chocó-Darién; Socio Bosque; protected areas; titling; timber; cash transfers tropical forest; Amazon; Chocó-Darién; Socio Bosque; protected areas; titling; timber; cash transfers
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ojeda Luna, T.; Eguiguren, P.; Günter, S.; Torres, B.; Dieter, M. What Drives Household Deforestation Decisions? Insights from the Ecuadorian Lowland Rainforests. Forests 2020, 11, 1131. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111131

AMA Style

Ojeda Luna T, Eguiguren P, Günter S, Torres B, Dieter M. What Drives Household Deforestation Decisions? Insights from the Ecuadorian Lowland Rainforests. Forests. 2020; 11(11):1131. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111131

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ojeda Luna, Tatiana, Paúl Eguiguren, Sven Günter, Bolier Torres, and Matthias Dieter. 2020. "What Drives Household Deforestation Decisions? Insights from the Ecuadorian Lowland Rainforests" Forests 11, no. 11: 1131. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111131

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