Deforestation and Ownership: Evidence from Historical Accounts and Contemporary Data
Historical accounts of forest cover changes over the last three millennia are compared to contemporaneous human history, to shed light on factors contributing to large scale changes in forest stocks. Insecure ownership, for example, during wartime and periods of unrest, tends to accompany deforestation, as does population growth, and as does declining agricultural yields. A simple model of forest stocks and agricultural yields that captures these relationships is formulated to guide empirical analysis. Estimates based on cross-country data support the proposition that agricultural yields tend to be low and deforestation rates rapid where ownership is inscure.
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