Seminar-The Economics of Deforestation

ENE465 Seminar-The Economics of Deforestation

  • Topics


     The course covers five main topics:

    • Global trends and changes in forest cover: evidence from satellite data
    • Drivers of deforestation:
      • Agricultural productivity
      • Infrastructural development (roads)
    • Deforestation and sub-soil resource extraction, such as mining, oil and gas exploration
    • Political economy of deforestation: quality of institutions, rent-seeking and forest loss
    • Evaluation of anti-deforestation policies

  • Learning outcome

    Learning outcome

    This course examines the determinants and drivers of deforestation, including agricultural production, mining, and other resource extraction activities; as well as evaluation and consequences of various policies designed to reduce deforestation, such as zoning and the REDD+.

    The course will make students familiar with applied methods in economics used to address topics surrounding deforestation in both developed and developing country contexts.

    After completing the course, students can:


    • have knowledge about policy implications on the research done on these topics
    • use and understand various analytical approaches for uncovering causal relationships between policy designs and economic outcomes on these topics


    • analyze the strengths and weaknesses of existing empirical approaches
    • identify relevant sources of data and use statistical tools to produce descriptive statistics
    • formulate a research proposal and describe the empirical strategy to be executed

    (general competence)

    • communicate their understanding and critical analysis of existing research designs and results

  • Teaching


    Monday: Lectures (introduction, global trends, agricultural productivity)

    Tuesday: Lectures (roads, resource extraction)

    Wednesday: Lectures (political economy, evaluation of anti-deforestation policies)

    Thursday: Student group work and activity

    Friday: Student presentations (critical analysis of existing research)

  • Recommended prerequisites

    Recommended prerequisites

    Students are recommended to have background in environmental and natural resource economics, for example, by having taken the following or similar courses: ECO439, ENE423, ENE426, ENE427, ENE429, and ECN420.

  • Required prerequisites

    Required prerequisites

    Students should have background knowledge in econometrics, microeconomics and statistics.

  • Requirements for course approval

    Requirements for course approval

    The course approval requires full attendance of lectures and student presentations.

  • Assessment


    • Group presentation in class (40%)
    • Individual research proposal (60%), due 2 weeks after course end

    Students are expected to work on the group presentations and research proposal during the week outside of lectures.

  • Grading Scale

    Grading Scale


  • Semester



  • Literature


    *Alix-Garcia, J., K. R.E. Sims, and Patricia Yañez-Pagans (2015). ``Only One Tree from Each Seed? Environmental Effectiveness and Poverty Alleviation in Mexico's Payments for Ecosystem Services Program,'' American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 7(4): 1-40.

    *Assunção, J., C. Gandour, and R. Rocha. (2015). ¿Deforestation Slowdown in the Brazilian Amazon: Prices or Policies?¿ Environment and Development Economics, 20(6): 697-722.

    Barbier, E.B., and J. C. Burgess (2001). The Economics of Tropical Deforestation,¿ Journal of Economic Surveys, 15(3): 413-433.

    *Brady, W. A., W. K. Smith, D. Twidwell, J. H. Haggerty, S. W. Running, D. E. Naugle, and S. D. Fuhlendorf. (2015). Ecosystem Services Lost to Oil and Gas in North America,¿ Science, 348(6233): 401-402.

    *Burgess, R., M. Hansen, B. A. Olken, P. Potapov, and S. Sieber (2012). The Political Economy of Deforestation in the Tropics, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127 (4): 1707-1754

    *Butt, N., H. L. Beyer, J. R. Bennett, D. Biggs, R. Maggini, M. Mills, A. R. Renwick, L. M. Seabrook, H. P. Possingham. (2013). Biodiversity Risks from Fossil Fuel Extraction, Science, 342:425-426.

    Chomitz, K.M., and D. A. Gray (1996). Roads, Land Use and Deforestation: A Spatial Model Applied to Belize,¿ World Bank Economic Review, 10(3): 487-512.

    *Cropper, M., J. Puri, and C. Griffiths (2001). Predicting the Location of Deforestation: The Role of Roads and Protected Areas in North Thailand, Land Economics, 77(2): 172-186

    *Hansen, M.C., P.V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend (2013). High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st- Century Forest Cover Change, Science, 342(6160): 850-853.

    Nepstad, D., D. McGrath, C. Stickler, A. Alencar, A. Azevedo, B. Swette, T. Bezerra, M. DiGiano, J. Shimada, R. Seroa da Motta, E. Armijo, L. Castello, P. Brando, M.C. Hansen, M. McGrathHorn, O. Carvalho, and L. Hess (2014). ``Slowing Amazon Deforestation through Public Policy and Interventions in Beef and Soy Supply Chains,'' Science, 110(13): 4956- 4961.

    Pfaff, A., J. Robalino, E. Lima, C. Sandoval, and L.D. Herrera (2014). ``Governance, Location and Avoided Deforestation from Protected Areas: Greater Restrictions Can Have Lower Impact, Due to Differences in Location,'' World Development, 55:7-20.

    *Skole, D.L., and C.J. Tucker (1993). ``Tropical Deforestation and Habitat Fragmentation in the Amazon: Satellite Data from 1978 to 1988,'' Science, 260:1905-1910.

    *Note: Required readings for the course.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Course responsible

 Po Yin Wong