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Proximate and underlying causes of forest cover change in Peninsular Malaysia

Motoe Miyamoto, Mamat Mohd Parid, Noor Aini Zakaria and Tetsuya Michinaka

Forest Policy and Economics, 2014, vol. 44, issue C, 18-25

Abstract: This study examined the process and causes of forest cover change in Peninsular Malaysia from 1970 to 2010. Time series data on forest cover, land use, timber production, and socio-economic variables of Peninsular Malaysia were analyzed by regression modeling using Akaike Information Criterion (AIC). Peninsular Malaysia experienced extensive deforestation during the 1970s and early 1980s, but since then deforestation has slowed down substantially. Regression results highlighted that poverty alleviation was the principal underlying factor leading to change in forest area. Neither population growth nor economic growth was a major factor affecting forest cover. Oil palm expansion was identified as the main proximate cause of deforestation. Regression results also indicate that oil palm expansion greatly contributed to poverty reduction. Our empirical evidence suggests that in Peninsular Malaysia, agricultural development to reduce poverty, in particular oil palm development, initially led to deforestation. However, substantial decrease in poverty caused decrease in deforestation over the long term. Based on the results of this study, we propose poverty alleviation as a strategy to reduce deforestation. Our findings demonstrate the need to analyze factors that reduce deforestation and to develop effective REDD programs.

Keywords: Deforestation reduction; Poverty alleviation; Oil palm; REDD; Akaike Information Criterion (AIC); Model selection (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2014.05.007

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