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ENVoo coTHE WORLD BANK
Interdisciplinary Fact-Findingon Current Deforestation in
Emst LutzMario Vedova W.H6ctor Martinez
Lorena San RomAnRicardo Vazquez L.Alfredo Alvarado
Lucia MerinoRafael Celis
Environment Working Paper No. 61
This paper has been prepared for internal use. The views and interpretationsherein art those of the author(s) and should not be attributed to the World Bank,to its affiliated organizations or to any individual acting on their behalf
INTERDISCIPLINARY FACr-FINDINGON CURRENT DEFORESTATnON
IN COSTA RICA
Ernst LutzMario Vedova W.Hator Martfnez
Lorena San RomAnRicardo Vazquez LAlfredo Alvarado
Lucia MerinoRafael Celia
A CATIEWorld Bank ProjectFunded by the Dutch Fund for the Environment
Ernst Lutz is senior economist in :he Land, Water, and Natural Habitats Division ofthe World Bank's Environment Department. Mario Vedova is Co-Director ofProDesarrollo, a consulting firm in San Jose, Costa Rica. Hector Martinez is a foresterand a free-lance consultant. Lorena San Roman is an ecologist and former director of thenational museum in San Jose, Costa Rica. She currently is Vice-Chancellor of Research atthe National University of Costa Rica. Ricardo Vazquez L is an anthropologist with theNati nal Museum of Costa Rica and lecturer at the University of Costa Rica. AlfredoAlva. ado is a professor of agronomy and soils as well as Director of the AgronomicResearch Center of the University of Costa Rica. Lucia Merino is a demographer,formerly with the Population and Environment Program of the Costa Rican DemographicAssociation. Rafael Celis, a resource economist, formerly Director of the SustainableAgriculture Program at CATIE, is at present Co-Director of ProDesarrollo. JeroenHuising did his Ph.D work on the Atlantico region and is currently a staff member at theDepartment of Surveying vald Remote Sensing at the Wageningen Agricultural Universityin the Netherlands.
The authors are indebted to many individuals for their assistance during the course ofthe survey in Costa Rica. At the Bank, Mr. Binswanger, initially in his capacity as Chief ofthe Agriculture Division for Mexico and Central America and later as Senior Adviser forthe Technical Department of the Latin America Region, has supported and commentedon s1e worlk His successor as Division Chief, Michael Baxter, also helped see this taskthrough to completion as did Mohan Munasinghe and Colin Rees in the EnvironmentDepartment. Susanna Hecht and James Shortle have provided useful specific comments onthe initial drafts. During the review process in the Bank, many individuals hav5 providedcomments and suggestions including Bill Beattie, Luis Constantino, Robert Kirmse, PaulKnotter, John McIntire, Augusta Molnar, Jan Post, Robert Schneider, and Jeff Sayer.linda Starke provided editorial assistance.
Departmental Worldng Papers are not formal publications of the World Bank. Theypresent preliminary and unpolished results of country analysis or research that arecirculated to encourage discussion and comment; citation and the use of such a papershould take into account its provisional character. The findings, interpretations, anaconclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors and should not beattributed in any manner to the World Bank, to its affiliated organizations, or to membersof its Board of Executive Directors or the countries they represent.
Because of the informality and to present the results of research with the leastpossible delay, the typescript nias not been prepared in accordance with the proceduresappropriate to formal printed texts, and the World Bank accepts no responsibility forerrors.
INTRDISCIPLNARY FACTI-FINDING ON CURRENT DEFORESTATIONIN COSTA RICA
Table of Contents
Study Objectives .... . .1........................ Methods ............................... 1Deforestation Estimates .............................................. 5Logistics, Types, aid Methods of Forest Intervention .......................... . 6Groups Responsible for Logging and Clearing ............................... . 9Problems of Survival in the Forest Industry ................................. 13Relationship between Population Growth and Deforestation ................. ... 14Effects of Logging and Land Clearing on Biodiversity, Water, and Soils ............ 15Land Use after the Clearing of Forests .................................... 18Economic Aspects of Tree Harvesting and Processing ........ ................. 20Bibliography . . . 24
Annex 1: Details on Methodo:agy and Sample Sites
ArPex 2: The System of Permits
Annex 3: Population Dynamics
Annex 4: Possibilities and Limitations of AssessingDeforestation in Costa Rica with GIS Information
Rapid deforestation of tropical forests has received worldwide attention. Yet ourunderstanding of the actual facts of deforestation tends to be limited, derived fromsatellite or aerial photographs or from case studies of limited representativeness.Suggestions for policy and project interventions are made in a context of limitedinformation and considerable uncertainty. To reduce this uncertainty for at least one case,the World Bank and the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Teaching(CATIE) surveyed 52 deforestation sites distributed across Costa Rica to allow moreaccurate determination of important facts about deforestation.
Some of the key findings of the survey are:
* Selective logging is estimated to affect between 51,000 and 59,000 hectares a year,roughly 1 percent of Costa Rica's land area.
* Probably between 5,000 and 10,000 hectares of forestland a year are being convertedto agricultural use through clear-cutting and clearing of previously logged-over areas.This represents some 0.1 to 0.2 % of Costa Rica's land area.
* The survey team found no evidence of clearing by burning, even though this isprobably happening to a limited extent.
* Some forest pl.ntations are being established, and there is some natural regenerationof forest in low-use or abandoned pastures. On a net basis, therefore, the loss of forestarea is estimated to be small at present.
* Economic motives of owners of the ft restland are the driving force behind most of theconversion and selective logging. The main objective is to reali!e the gains from thetimber harvesting or from subsequent agricultural production or both. Forest clearingto establish a stronger claim to the land no longer appears to be a motive, as it was inthe past.
* Environmental concerns tend not to be taken into consideration by the owners or theloggers wlu, assist them when they are unrelated to on-site productivity benefits.Owners, and in particular those that are vertically integrated, seek to actively limit on-site damages.
* Smallholders squatting on public or private land seem to play only a minor role incurrent land clearing or iogging. The survey data cannot answer the question whethersmallholders have also r layed a minor role in the past.
* The large reduction in forested area during this century has reduced habitats for floraand fauna. Fortunately, it appears losses of biodiversity have been small so far. Thereare some threatened species, but the national park system, while needing
strengthening, should be able to preserve most of the country's biodiversity, which isone of the bases for the nation's important environmentally oriented tourism.
* Negative environmental effects on soils and water from land clearing and selectivelogging appear to be much smaller than sometimes asserted. The major sediment loadcomes from road construction. But under tropical conditions, dirt roads no longer usedare generally covered by vegetation within months, thus sharply reducing erosion. Onlya small part of eroded soil reached any waterways in the cases observed.
All but the last of these findings are specific to Costa Rica and should therefore notbe generalized.
The findings of the survey present a more benign picture than is usually assumed.Given the dearth of empirical f.ats, hypotheses have sometimes been advanced thatacquire the stLktus of fat by dint of repetition. Some of these hypotheses dramatize asituation that helps raise awareness. The data here suggest that the impact of currentdeforestation in Costa Rica is less serious than sometimes alleged, in part because of pastdecisions to set aside large areas as national parks or reserves. But the findings are not ateason for complacency. Instead, we believe that they can be used to direct policy andregulatory interventions more intensively toward the areas and problems -n Costa Ricawhere damage from current deforestation is most likely to occur. Also, fact-finding studiesare encouraged elsewhere to provide a firmer information base for improved management.
INTRDISCPUNARY FACT-FINDING ON CURRENT DEFORESTATIONIN COSTA RICA
Costa Rica has a larid area of about 51,000 square kilometers. The forested area hasdecreased from 85% in 1900 io 56% in 1950 and 29% in 1987. More than a quarter of theland area is part of national parks and reserves, whose forests in 1987 covered some 19%of the nation's land area.
Deforestation is a major concern in Costa Rica. However, despite a high level ofawareness of this problem, information on the defores