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Roads, Land Use, and Deforestation: A Spatial Model Applied to Belize

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  • Chomitz, Kenneth M
  • Gray, David A

Abstract

Rural roads promote economic development, but they also facilitate deforestation. To explore this tradeoff, this article develops a spatially explicit model of land use and estimates probabilities of alternative land uses as a function of land characteristics and distance to market using a multinomial logit specification of this model. Controls are incorporated for the endogeneity of road placement. The model is applied to data for southern Belize, an area experiencing rapid expansion of both subsistence and commercial agriculture using geographic information system (GIS) techniques to select sample points at 1-kilometer intervals. Market access, land quality, and tenure status affect the probability of agricultural land use synergistically, having differential effects on the likelihood of commercial versus semisubsistence farming. The results suggest that road building in areas with agriculturally poor soils and low population densities may be a "lose-lose" proposition, causing habitat fragmentation and providing low economic returns. Copyright 1996 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:10:y:1996:i:3:p:487-512
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