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Shifting cultivation and forest pressure in Cameroon

  • Ickowitz, Amy

Shifting cultivation is often blamed as a principal cause of deforestation in tropical Africa. It is claimed that the practice is unsustainable because shortened fallow lengths result in soils too degraded to support forest vegetation. The decline in fallow lengths is often attributed to increases in population density and greater market participation. The conventional wisdom makes several claims that are as yet unsubstantiated. This paper investigates whether there is evidence to support two of these claims in southern Cameroon. First, using both cross-sectional and panel data, I find that there is indeed a robust negative association between fallow lengths and population density in the study area and weaker evidence for a negative relationship between fallow lengths and market participation. Second, a stochastic frontier production function approach is used to investigate the marginal contribution of fallow to output. Results indicate that fallow lengths are not low enough to be affecting yields and therefore do not appear to be resulting in declines in soil fertility. Thus overall, while some of the assumptions of the conventional wisdom appear to be true, there is little evidence to support its dramatic conclusion that shifting cultivators are causing deforestation in the forested region of Cameroon.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/53077/1/MPRA_paper_53077.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 53077.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:53077
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  1. Unai Pascual & Edward B. Barbier, 2006. "Deprived land-use intensification in shifting cultivation: the population pressure hypothesis revisited," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 34(2), pages 155-165, 03.
  2. Barrett, Scott, 1991. "Optimal soil conservation and the reform of agricultural pricing policies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 167-187, October.
  3. Bulte, Erwin & van Soest, Daan, 1999. "A note on soil depth, failing markets and agricultural pricing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 245-254, February.
  4. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
  5. P. Wilner Jeanty, 2010. "SPMLREG: Stata module to estimate the spatial lag, the spatial error, the spatial durbin, and the general spatial models by maximum likelihood," Statistical Software Components S457135, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 25 Dec 2013.
  6. Ahuja, Vinod, 1998. "Land degradation, agricultural productivity and common property: evidence from C te d'Ivoire," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(01), pages 7-34, February.
  7. Albers, H. J. & Goldbach, M. J., 2000. "Irreversible ecosystem change, species competition, and shifting cultivation," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 261-280, July.
  8. Meeusen, Wim & van den Broeck, Julien, 1977. "Efficiency Estimation from Cobb-Douglas Production Functions with Composed Error," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 18(2), pages 435-44, June.
  9. P. Wilner Jeanty, 2010. "SPWMATRIX: Stata module to generate, import, and export spatial weights," Statistical Software Components S457111, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 15 Mar 2014.
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