Forest Dependence in Developing Countries : Analysis of household perceptions, energy, and food security in Tanzania

Abstract: This thesis explores forest dependence in developing countries by examining households’ perceptions about their forest use and dependence, energy choices and the links between forests and food security in a case study of Tanzania. Paper (I) reviews selected economic literature related to the role of household heterogeneities on forest dependence and on energy choices. The paper concludes that due to the presence of numerous market failures in developing countries, production and consumption decisions relating to forest use and energy use frequently become more complicated than in developed countries. Linked to this, household heterogeneities have considerable effects on forest dependence and energy preferences. However, additional research is still needed on the role of household heterogeneities on forest dependence and energy choices. Future studies should also focus on the energy path dependence by considering price elasticities to see how consumers respond to changes in shadow prices for different forest products and energy sources. Paper (II) explores factors affecting perceived forest dependence and by introducing private forest ownership, i.e., forests cultivated on private land, into the analysis. The analysis was based on household cross-sectional survey data collected in the subsample areas of Njombe and Shinyanga, Tanzania. Ordered logit models were run to estimate the determinants of perceived forest dependence, and the effects of private forest ownership on perceptions of forest dependence were analysed. The analysis showed that household socio-economic characteristics influenced households’ perceptions of their dependence on forests. The analysis also showed that owners of forests on private land saw themselves as more forest-dependent than non-owners with similar levels of forest use. This study proposes for consolidated approaches to sustainability to conserve communal and state forests consider the socio-economic reality of the households that depend on them. Concurrently, households’ ownership of forests on private lands should be encouraged, as should further research on such ownership. Paper (III) examines the linkage between forests and household food security by analysing factors that determine participation in forest activities and by examining differences between participants and non-participants in respect of the food-security outcome. The study was conducted in rural areas of the Shinyanga Region in Tanzania using cross-sectional data. Marginal effects predicted that distance to the forest concerned, illness or death of a household member, and off-farm activities determined participation in forest activities. Propensity score matching revealed that those who participated in forest activities were less food secure than non-participants were, which supports the contention that rural forest dependents are prone to food insecurity. Government policy should, therefore, aim at enhancing alternative sources of income as well as food storage facilities and food production for rural households. Paper (IV) contributes to the existing literature by describing and analysing this so-called energy mix in the city as well as the effects of households’ experience with using various fuels. A comparison of multinomial logit specifications yielded different results, which implies that the analysis of the energy mix is sensitive to the way households are categorised in the research; households are much more likely to shift most of their energy use to new fuel types in response to changing conditions than to shift all of it. The results also show that households’ fuel choices were sensitive to their fuel-use experience. Both findings have implications for energy policy; achieving shifts to new fuel types is easier if the goal is to achieve widespread, rather than total, shifts in household energy use, and achieving shifts to new fuels is easier if households have had at least some prior experience with those fuels.