Poverty alleviation can be an effective conservation strategy

On 2 October 2018, Indonesia Project’s visiting fellow, Rhita Simorangkir (Charles University, Prague) presented some preliminary findings of her paper titled “Poverty alleviation can be an effective conservation strategy”, as parts of the Trade and Development seminar series hosted by the Arndt-Corden Department of Economics. This paper addresses the two great global challenge of the 21st century which are poverty reduction and slow tropical deforestation.

In this paper, Rhita and her co-authors, evaluate Indonesia’s anti poverty conditional cash transfer program, named Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH), and ask whether the program can also reduced deforestation as side benefit. Exploiting the staggered rollout of the program across 2008 to 2012 at the village level, they found that exposure to the PKH program reduced village-level annual tree cover loss by 28%. In quantifying the benefit, the research further calculatesĀ  to an average about 85,000 ha/year of avoided deforestation during the PKH implementation over that period. Those results offers some hope that environment and poverty reduction are not always conflicting each other as the policy efforts to eradicate poverty need not have unavoidable environmental costs.

The seminar was attended by approximately 26 people, with large number of students and ANU academics. This seminar series has been well known as ANU’s oldest and one of the most prestigious seminar series devoted to the economics development. Complete schedule of the seminar can be accessed here.