Reducing deforestation and forest degradation: leakage or synergy?
Agricultural expansion is the main deforestation driver, while forest degradation is due to non-sustainable poaching and harvesting of forest products. Policies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) thus focus on agricultural expansion and illegal harvesting. The feedbacks between these two policy instruments are rarely discussed. Does reduced deforestation indirectly decrease or enhance forest degradation? How does better control on illegal harvesting influence deforestation? Using a simple household model, we assess the impact of a Payment for Environmental Services (PES) on both deforestation and illegal harvesting, and the impact of increasing the control on illegal harvesting on deforestation. We show that when land and labor are substitutes, both policies have positive feedbacks and win-win potential. Conversely, when production factors are complements, they have negative feedbacks and need to be taken into account by the public policies. Further, we demonstrate that the production factors can become substitutes if distance costs are high, making a win-win situation more likely.