Title: The impacts of agricultural expansion and interest groups on deforestation: an optimal forest control model

Authors: Riad M. Sultan

Addresses: Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Mauritius, Le Reduit, Moka, Mauritius

Abstract: An optimal control model is derived to determine the impacts of agricultural expansion, timber production and the influence of interest groups with unequal bargaining strengths on the steady-state forest stock. The paper shows that the optimum forest stock increases with increased benefits from timber production and the forest itself and decreases with agricultural land expansion. Extending the model to the influence of interest groups, the paper shows that if the interest groups that place a relatively high weight on agricultural expansion and timber benefits dominate the decision-making process, the optimum forest area decreases and agricultural land will increase. The role of interest groups with their bargaining strengths is therefore an important determinant of deforestation. The conclusions of the model are used to describe the path of deforestation in the island of Mauritius. The paper concludes that sustainable forest land management calls for an efficient participatory approach, taking into account a fair representation of interest groups coupled with good governance, accountability and transparency.

Keywords: steady-state forest stock; optimal control; deforestation; political economy; interest groups; agricultural expansion; agriculture; forest control; forestry; timber production; agricultural land; land expansion; forest areas; modelling; Mauritius; sustainable land management; participatory approach; good governance; accountability; transparency; forest management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJARGE.2016.076926

International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, 2016 Vol.12 No.2, pp.137 - 154

Received: 13 Aug 2015
Accepted: 29 Jan 2016

Published online: 01 Jun 2016 *

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