New publication: Land related grievances shape tropical forest-cover in areas affected
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Authors: Augusto Castro-Nunez, Ole Mertz, Alexander Buritica, Chrystian C. Sosa, Stephanie T. Lee
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Armed-conflicts often occur in tropical areas considered to be of high ‘conservation-value’, termed as such for their biodiversity or carbon-storage functions. Despite this important overlap, few studies have assessed how forest-biomass is affected by armed-conflicts. Thus, in this paper we develop a multinomial logit model to examine how outcomes of the interactions between carbon-storage, armed-conflict and deforestation rates are linked to social, institutional and economic factors. We use Colombia as a case study because of its protracted armed-conflict, high forest-cover, sustained deforestation rates and ongoing peace processes. Our empirical results show that the impacts of armed-conflicts on forest-cover are connected to specific socio-economical processes, such as unequal land distribution and landgrabbing, which typically occurs as part of ‘agricultural colonization’. Findings address a research gap by providing statistically sound evidence for associations between armed-conflicts and land-related grievances, which has rarely been demonstrated empirically. Our results also suggest that forest commons are associated with reduced armed-conflict, and simultaneously provide contributions to carbon storage and to meeting basic needs. Moreover, our forest-conflict transition models provide useful visual means to capture and relay to policymakers-the causes of forest cover-changes in a conflict-affected country. Finally, our findings imply that in dedicating their efforts to resolving land-ownership disputes, the Colombian government might uphold their international climate change commitments via reducing deforestation and hence forest based carbon emissions, while pursuing their national security objective via undermining opportunities for guerrilla groups to operate.