A holistic approach to address deforestation
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The establishments of property rights and collective actions are viewed as key strategies to support sustainable management of forests and other common pool resources. However, previous discussion of the theories either address property rights or collective actions as aggregated terms or omit the role of biophysical and socioeconomic conditions. It is not clear which property rights or collective actions are effective and under what biophysical and socioeconomic circumstance that they have effects. The dissertation analyzes how specific rights and collective actions affect deforestation in two studies based on separate sets of institutional data obtained from the World Resources Institute and International Forest Resources and Institutions. By integrating remote-sensing, census and site survey data, a wide range of multi-disciplinary variables are integrated with the institutional data from numerous locations worldwide. Elastic Net and LASSO statistical methods are used to select significant individual variables from a large number of predictors and their interaction terms without excessive loss of information. Statistical analysis methods including linear, generalized linear and truncated normal regression analyses and cross validation are used. Both studies lead to similar conclusions. The first study analyzes data from 28,208 community forests in Cameroon, Colombia and Mexico and indicates that the effects of the alienation rights (right to lease, right to collateralize, and right to sell) can be either positive, negative or have no correlation, when preventing deforestation and reducing deforestation are the concerns. Furthermore, the alienation rights’ effects vary across locations. The second study analyzes data from 162 sites in 15 countries and indicates that the specific collective actions and property rights perform differently, with respect to gross deforestation. The effects can be either positive, negative or show no correlation, depending on the local biophysical and socioeconomic conditions. The studies conclude that we should not assume property rights or collective actions would ultimately lead to desired forest outcomes under all local conditions. The potential effects of a specific right or action should be considered carefully, and location-based solutions developed in the local biophysical and socioeconomic context may be needed to address deforestation.