Xenia van Edig, Stefan Schwarze:
Necessity or Lucre? Poverty and Deforestation at the Household Perspective


Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Germany

One of the major sources of deforestation is the expansion of agricultural areas by smallholders. The purpose of this paper is to explore the underlying factors which drive rural households to clear natural forest for the cultivation of crops. By analysing deforestation on the household level, we are able to overcome limitations of higher aggregated models of land-use change which often fail to take into account important household factors that may determine deforestation like capital endowment or access to credit.

We use panel data from three waves of household surveys conducted between 2000 and 2006. The surveys included 266 randomly selected households from 12 villages in the vicinity of the Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. To account for socio-economic differences, we differentiate our analyses for three poverty groups and also integrate an index of relative poverty in our probit and tobit regression analysis.

The conversion of forest into farm land in the research area is a severe problem as approximately 52 km2 of forest area were converted into farm land between 1999 and 2006 by smallholders. 50 percent of the area cleared is used for cocoa production. The cultivation of dry rice is second to cocoa cultivation. Dry rice is grown on 28 percent of the area cleared.We further found that poorer households are more likely to convert forest and that social capital (in terms of the participation in organisations) seems to foster the probability of forest clearance. The results are used to draw policy conclusions with respect to forest conservation and poverty alleviation.

Keywords: Deforestation, Indonesia, poverty, smallholder


Contact Address: Stefan Schwarze, Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Dept. of Agricultural Economics and Rural DevelopmentPlatz der Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073 Göttingen, Germany, e-mail: s.schwarze@agr.uni-goettingen.de
Andreas Deininger, October 2010