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How do decision makers´ ethnicity and religion influence the use of forests? Evidence from Chile

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  • Reyes, René
  • Nelson, Harry
  • Zerriffi, Hisham

Abstract

Increasingly it is recognized that traditional models of rational decision making fail to capture important aspects that extend beyond just assessments of relative costs and benefits, expanding to consideration of other elements such as culture. We studied how ethnicity and religion may influence the use of native forests in the South of Chile, an area of high biological and cultural diversity where individual land tenure predominates. A sample of 275 forest owners were surveyed (social and environmental data), of which 173 participated in economic games to measure both risk aversion and time discounting rates. Risk and time behaviors showed significant variations among ethnic and religion groups that relate in turn to different intensities of timber extraction and tree plantations cover. However, we did not find a direct relationship between ethnic and religious groups and the use of forests; instead, we found an indirect influence about how they shape attitudes towards time and risk. The variable for ethnicity in our study was less a measure of ethnicity itself as it is a measure of ethnically based discrimination that has taken place over time. In order to be more effective, Chilean forest policy should focus on reducing uncertainty about forest management decisions, because uncertainty exacerbates negative behavior about forests by increasing risk aversion (more intense logging) and time discounting rates (less investment in tree plantations), especially in most critical socioeconomic and environmental contexts. This would help decision makers move towards more sustainable practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Reyes, René & Nelson, Harry & Zerriffi, Hisham, 2021. "How do decision makers´ ethnicity and religion influence the use of forests? Evidence from Chile," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:128:y:2021:i:c:s138993412100068x
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102462
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