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

Author

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Deng, Xiangzheng & Huang, Jikun & Uchida, Emi & Rozelle, Scott & Gibson, John, 2011. "Pressure cookers or pressure valves: Do roads lead to deforestation in China?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 79-94, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:61:y:2011:i:1:p:79-94
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Patrick Doupe, 2014. "The Costs of Error in Setting Reference Rates for Reduced Deforestation," CCEP Working Papers 1415, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. repec:eee:foreco:v:29:y:2017:i:pa:p:4-13 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Man Li & JunJie Wu & Xiangzheng Deng, 2013. "Identifying Drivers of Land Use Change in China: A Spatial Multinomial Logit Model Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 89(4), pages 632-654.
    5. Doupe, Patrick, 2014. "The costs of error in setting reference rates for reduced deforestation," Working Papers 249497, Australian National University, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy.
    6. Xie, Yang & Zilberman, David, 2015. "Water-Storage Capacities versus Water-Use Efficiency: Substitutes or Complements?," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211894, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Guojun He & Yang Xie & Bing Zhang, 2017. "Balancing Development and the Environment in a Changing World: Expressways, GDP, and Pollution in China," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2017-43, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised Aug 2017.
    8. Kalifi Ferretti-Gallon and Jonah Busch, 2014. "What Drives Deforestation and What Stops It? A Meta-Analysis of Spatially Explicit Econometric Studies - Working Paper 361," Working Papers 361, Center for Global Development.
    9. repec:eee:enepol:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:669-677 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Wei Song & Xiangzheng Deng, 2015. "Effects of Urbanization-Induced Cultivated Land Loss on Ecosystem Services in the North China Plain," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(6), pages 1-16, June.
    11. 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.
    12. Song, Wei & Deng, Xiangzheng & Yuan, Yongwei & Wang, Zhan & Li, Zhaohua, 2015. "Impacts of land-use change on valued ecosystem service in rapidly urbanized North China Plain," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 318(C), pages 245-253.

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