District Subdivision and the Location of Smallholder Forest Conversion in Sumatra

Marc N. Conte and Philip Shaw

Abstract

A unique GIS data set from Indonesia that distinguishes smallholder and plantation operations is used to test the impact of district subdivision, which enhances local control of natural-resource revenues, on the location of smallholder forest conversion. Nonparametric analyses show that in subdivided districts, smallholders convert forests on steeper land that is farther from the nearest road and deeper into the forest. Smallholders are also less responsive to forest protection in subdivided districts. District subdivision imposes external costs of $1,629 to $4,941 per hectare due to increased carbon emissions associated with smallholder conversion deeper into the forest. (JEL C14, Q15)

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