Factors Affecting Forest Area Changes in Cambodia: An Econometric Approach

Tetsuya Michinaka, Motoe Miyamoto, Yasuhiro Yokota, Heng Sokh, Sethaphal Lao, Vuthy Ma

Clarifying factors affecting forest area changes is critical to implementing REDD+ scheme properly. We analyzed some socio-economic factors and clarified their relationships with deforestation in Cambodia for the period of 2002 to 2010. A panel data analysis was conducted for 18 provinces, while six other provinces were deleted from the list because only a small amount of their land was forested. Time effects, cross-sectional dependence, serial correlation in idiosyncratic errors, and heteroskedasticity were tested, and robust variance matrix estimations were obtained to solve the problems of heteroskedasticity and serial correlation. The model estimation results showed that population, gross agricultural production and large-scale plantation development have negative impacts on forest area changes. On the other hand, the impacts of rice cultivation, gross industrial production, household income and house floor area by household were found not to be significant. Overall, however, the results indicated that forests in Cambodia still face pressure from the increases in population, agriculture production, and the enlargement of land development. As the increase in productivity of agriculture gives a better use of current agricultural land and lessens the pressure on forest, intensifying agriculture is important. It is also important to develop industry and other economic ventures to grow national economy while not imposing pressure on forest. This research reminds decision makers to use discretion when developing large-scale plantations.