Economic Development and Forest Cover: Evidence from Satellite Data

Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Olha Danylo, Steffen Fritz, Ian McCallum, Michael Obersteiner, Linda See, Brian Walsh

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Ongoing deforestation is a pressing, global environmental issue with direct impacts on climate
change, carbon emissions, and biodiversity. There is an intuitive link between economic development
and overexploitation of natural resources including forests, but this relationship has proven difficult
to establish empirically due to both inadequate data and convoluting geo-climactic factors. In this
analysis, we use satellite data on forest cover along national borders in order to study the determinants
of deforestation differences across countries. Controlling for trans-border geo-climactic differences, we
find that income per capita is the most robust determinant of differences in cross-border forest cover.
We show that the marginal effect of per capita income growth on forest cover is strongest at the earliest
stages of economic development, and weakens in more advanced economies, presenting some of
the strongest evidence to date for the existence of at least half of an environmental Kuznets curve for
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40678
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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