International migration and environmental degradation—The case of Mozambican refugees and forest resources in Malawi
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Considering the continuous influx of Mozambican refugees to Malawi as an external shock to the forest ecosystem, a dynamic model of optimizing the use of forest tree resources is developed in this paper. Land clearing for refugee camp sites, construction material, fuelwood and agricultural crop production constitute a major threat to forest resources in the refugee populated areas. The model presented in the paper provides a framework for analysing various afforestation and technology policies to increase the sustainable use of forest tree resources. The optimal conditions for choosing the levels of land clearing for various uses of refugee population are derived. The model parameters are used to identify the optimal timing and rate of afforestation that will attain a dynamic equilibrium of forest tree resources. Several policy implications are derived from the model results for reducing the environmental degradation of forest resources due to the presence of refugees. It is argued that the general environmental regulation policies based on user-pay principles may not be appropriate under the refugee situation and that additional intervention is needed by the host government and international relief agencies for reversing the trends in deforestation.
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