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The Links between Poverty and the Environment in Malawi

  • Bentry Mkwara


    (University of Waikato)

  • Dan Marsh


    (University of Waikato)

Deforestation arising from conversion of forest areas into agriculture is a serious problem in Malawi. Cultivation of subsistence and cash crops is often cited as a major cause of this problem. This paper applies the von Thunen model to firstly, discuss competition for agricultural land and secondly, establish why the poor are closely associated with forests. Further, a regression analysis is conducted to examine the effects of changes in crop land use on changes in forest cover. Results indicate that cultivation of different crops has varying effects on deforestation. Cultivation of maize, primarily by the poor, appears to be the principal cause of deforestation while tobacco and pulses stand at second and third positions, respectively. Finally, a simple methodology is developed to estimate the extent of poverty-driven deforestation in Malawi.

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Paper provided by University of Waikato, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 09/10.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 30 Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:09/10
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  1. Coxhead, Ian & Jayasuriya, Sisira, 2004. "Development strategy and trade liberalization: implications for poverty and environment in the Philippines," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(05), pages 613-644, October.
  2. Place, Frank & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Population, Tenure, and Natural Resource Management: The Case of Customary Land Area in Malawi," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 13-32, January.
  3. L Pez, Ram N, 2000. "Trade reform and environmental externalities in general equilibrium: analysis for an archetype poor tropical country," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(04), pages 377-404, October.
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