Klas Sander, Manfred Zeller:
Forest Management between Conservation and Poverty Alleviation


Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of Rural Development, Germany

In Madagascar, the management of forest resources is framed by widespread and extreme poverty and a continuous loss of the country's unique biodiversity. As a response, the government of Madagascar has adopted conservation as the guiding principle for natural resource management. The decision is based on the results of macro-economic studies that emphasise economic values such as biodiversity, recreation, and watershed protection. In addition, these analyses suggest that it is especially the poorest people who benefit most from the conservation of natural resources. However, the success of this conservation strategy is planned to be measured mainly against progress made in reducing the present rate of deforestation, but not against indicators of economic development and poverty alleviation.

Therefore, it is the purpose of this study to carry out an economic analysis of alternative forest management strategies from the viewpoint of rural household in Madagascar using cost-benefit-analysis. In this context, this study places significant interest on a detailed exploration of the complex socio-economic and socio-cultural environment framing the decision-making process of natural resource utilisation by rural households. In addition, economic aspects at the household level are combined with natural science data of forest resources to analyse the interdependence of ecosystem dynamics and economic decision"=making processes. This extends the analysis beyond mere economic aspects of resource management and it provides further information how alternative management strategies can meet the increasing direct demand on forest resources, while also achieving the objective of biodiversity conservation. One emphasis of this research project is to analyse the potential of alternative management strategies to contribute to the overall goal of poverty alleviation in Madagascar taking into account the subjective welfare judgement of the individual rural households. The quantitative analysis is complemented by a discussion of qualitative research results that are judged important to be taken account of whenever policy measures are designed in the future for achieving sustainable forest management. The emphasis of this study is to analyse the potential of alternative forest management strategies to contribute to the overall goal of poverty alleviation.

Keywords: Biodiversity, conservation, cost-benefit-analysis, forest management, poverty alleviation


Contact Address: Klas Sander, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Institute of Rural DevelopmentWaldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany, e-mail: klas.sander@t-online.de
Andreas Deininger, September 2004