Under the right economic conditions, a growing demand for forest products that accompanies development may lead to an increase – not a decline – in forest cover, according to a new study by researchers at Brown University and Harvard University. Policies that focus on reducing paper demand may not necessarily increase forestation.
The study examined the connection between the economy and forest cover in India, a country with a relatively closed economy that experienced an apparent increase in forest growth in recent decades. Estimates obtained from satellite images of a sample of representative rural areas in India suggested an increase from about 10 percent forest cover in 1971 to about 24 percent in 1999.
“Concern about the phenomena of global warming and declining biodiversity has focused attention on the link between the world’s forests and economic growth,” said Andrew D. Foster, professor and chair of the Department of Economics at Brown. “By carefully structuring its policies, India set the stage for an increase in demand for this natural resource to lead to an increase in its supply.”
Kristen Cole | Brown University
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