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Why Forests Are Important for Global Poverty Alleviation: a Spatial Explanation

William D Sunderlin, Rights and Resources Group; Center for International Forestry Research
Sonya Dewi, World Agroforestry Centre
Atie Puntodewo, Center for International Forestry Research
Daniel Müller, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO); Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Arild Angelsen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences; Center for International Forestry Research
Michael Epprecht, Swiss National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) "North-South", University of Berne


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Forests have been declared important for the well-being of the poor because of the kinds of goods and services that they provide. We asked whether forests are important for the poor not only because of the kinds of goods and services they provide, but also because they tend to be located where the poor are. We conducted a spatial analysis to ascertain the degree of spatial association between poverty and forests in seven countries: Brazil, Honduras, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Indonesia, and Vietnam. For most of these countries, there was a significant positive correlation between high natural forest cover and high poverty rate (the percentage of the population that is poor) and between high forest cover and low poverty density (the number of poor per unit area). We explain the findings and discuss policy implications and topics for future research.

Key words

deforestation; forest; poverty; spatial analysis

Copyright © 2008 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087