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What is the impact of Population Growth on Forests? Nicole Vaughan Jorge Vilarrasa 10/12/10 ECON 0428
Neo-Malthusian • Population growth will negatively affect forests. • “Vicious Cycle” • Feedback loop between population growth and environmental degradation.
Neo-Boserupian • “Environmental scarcity breeds creativity, innovation, and policy that conserves natural resources.” (Bhattacharya & Innes, 2008) • Certain agricultural practices promote forest growth.
History • The existing forest zone may not have held as much forest in the past as was estimated. • Forest cover has decreased over time. • It is estimated that Ghana had about 8 million hectares of forest in 1900, by 1980 forest cover had been reduced to about 2 million hectares. (Leach & Fairhead, 2000)
Agricultural Impacts • Expansion of cropland is a leading cause of deforestation. • Irrigation allows for cropland in drier areas. • Increasing crop yields lead to reduced pressure on forests. • Agriculture is beginning to have less of an impact on forests. • Other factors have more weight. • Non-food crops, income
Other Factors • “Designation of forests lands as parks, logging for timber, the building of roads and cities, and expansion of pastures shrink forests.” (Waggoner & Ausubel, 2001) • Forest reserves, religious areas, and social norms also affect forests.
Rural/Urban • Rural populations produce goods using natural resources; urban populations demand these goods. • The “vicious cycle” does exist, however, “environmental scarcity tends to spur environmental improvement.” (Bhattacharya & Innes, 2008) • Rural populations experience a negative correlation between environmental quality and the demand for children. • “Rural population growth leads to resource degradation.” (Bhattacharya & Innes, 2008) • Urban populations experience a positive correlation between environmental quality and the demand for children.
Institutions • Social and political institutions play a role in interactions with forests. • Privatization of forests combined with an increased demand for forest products lead to an increase in the supply of forests. • When forests are a common property resource, increased demand for forest products leads to exploitation.
The Future of the Forests • Population growth’s impact on forests varies by location. • West Africa • More people more forests • More labor for fire management and soil improvement. • Forest Fragmentation • Savanna-forest transition zones • Forest islands
Conclusions • Population growth has lead to an overall decline in forest cover. • Different locations experience different levels of deforestation. • Forest Fragmentation • Environmental scarcity tends to lead to environmental improvement. • Due to the large number of inputs affecting forests, it is difficult to say which factors have the biggest impact and what will happen to forest cover in the future.