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Pressure cookers or pressure valves: Do roads lead to deforestation in China?

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Author Info

  • Deng, Xiangzheng
  • Huang, Jikun
  • Uchida, Emi
  • Rozelle, Scott
  • Gibson, John

Abstract

The effect of roads on forests is ambiguous. Many studies conclude that building and upgrading roads increases pressure on forests but some find that new and better roads may reduce the rate of deforestation. In this paper we use satellite remote sensing images of forest cover in Jiangxi Province, China, to test whether the existence and the size of roads (ranging from expressways to tertiary roads) in 1995 affected the level of forest cover in 2000 or the rate of change between 1995 and 2000. To account for road access for each of our 1 km2 ("pixel") units of forest cover we measure whether or not and what type of roads penetrate the "watershed" in which the pixel lies. These watersheds allow more plausible measures of accessibility than do traditional "crowfly" distance measures that ignore topography. To account for possible confounding we also use 12 additional covariates: geographic and climatic variables (e.g., elevation, slope, rainfall, temperature, soil properties); demographic and economic variables (e.g., local population and GDP per square kilometer); and distance variables (e.g., distance to the nearest provincial capital). Although simple univariate OLS regressions show that forest levels are lower and deforestation rates higher either when there is a road, or when there is a higher quality road, these results are not robust. Controlling for all of the covariates and also using recently developed covariate matching techniques to estimate treatment effects, we find that roads in China's Jiangxi Province can most safely be described as having no impact on the level of forests and no impact on the rate of deforestation.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Volume (Year): 61 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 79-94

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:61:y:2011:i:1:p:79-94

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622870

Related research

Keywords: Deforestation Afforestation Road Land use Forest Forest cover One kilometer square pixel OLS Covariate matching Jiangxi;

References

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  1. Zwane, Alix Peterson, 2007. "Does poverty constrain deforestation? Econometric evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 330-349, September.
  2. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2008. "On the Failure of the Bootstrap for Matching Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1537-1557, November.
  3. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity score matching methods for non-experimental causal studies," Discussion Papers 0102-14, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  4. Black, Dan A. & Smith, J.A.Jeffrey A., 2004. "How robust is the evidence on the effects of college quality? Evidence from matching," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 99-124.
  5. Maureen Cropper & Jyotsna Puri & Charles Griffiths, 2001. "Predicting the Location of Deforestation: The Role of Roads and Protected Areas in North Thailand," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 77(2), pages 172-186.
  6. Doll, Christopher N.H. & Muller, Jan-Peter & Morley, Jeremy G., 2006. "Mapping regional economic activity from night-time light satellite imagery," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 75-92, April.
  7. Chomitz, Kenneth M & Gray, David A, 1996. "Roads, Land Use, and Deforestation: A Spatial Model Applied to Belize," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 487-512, September.
  8. Luc Anselin, 2001. "Spatial Effects in Econometric Practice in Environmental and Resource Economics," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 705-710.
  9. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, 01.
  10. Nelson, Gerald & Hellerstein, Daniel, 1997. "Do roads cause deforestation? Using satellite images in econometric analysis of land use," MPRA Paper 25261, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Zhao, Zhong, 2005. "Sensitivity of Propensity Score Methods to the Specifications," IZA Discussion Papers 1873, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Pfaff, Alexander S. P., 1999. "What Drives Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon?: Evidence from Satellite and Socioeconomic Data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 26-43, January.
  13. Sato, Yasuhiro & Yamamoto, Kazuhiro, 2005. "Population concentration, urbanization, and demographic transition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 45-61, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Kathy Baylis & Yazhen Gong & Shun Wang, 2013. "Bridging vs. Bonding Social Capital and the Management of Common Pool Resources," NBER Working Papers 19195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Takahashi, Ryo & Todo, Yasuyuki, 2011. "Impact of Community Management on Forest Protection:Evidence from an Aid-Funded Project in Ethiopia," Working Papers 31, JICA Research Institute.

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