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Title:Three essays on the relationship between land conservation and economic development
Author(s):Howlader, Aparna
Director of Research:Ando , Amy W
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ando , Amy W
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Mallory, Mindy L; Michelson, Hope C; Parker, Dominic
Department / Program:Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline:Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Q150, Q500
Abstract:Land degradation is a significant cause of biodiversity loss, food insecurity, and persistent poverty. In this dissertation, I explore how land conservation and conversion policies affect economic development and human welfare. I use current and historical contexts and compile primary data sources to answer this question. I use case studies from both developing and developed countries, and from both land conversion and working land conservation policies. In the first chapter, I study the effects of forest protected areas (PAs) on surrounding households in a developing country. I use Nepal’s recently established PAs as a case study to see the effects on the households who depend on the forest. I find that PAs reduce household wood collection, but there is no evidence that other household consumption is significantly reduced by the strain of reduced access to forest resources nor that PAs rapidly attracted tourism that increased household welfare in these rural villages. This analysis of the immediate effects of land conservation policies in Nepal cannot shed light on all the effects of conservation policies, as land and soil quality change takes time. Historical events provide a more complete picture. Thus, my second two chapters study historical land conservation policies in the United States (US). In my second chapter, I explore the persistent impacts on the environment of the earliest farmland conservation policies in the Great Plains. The 1930s Dust Bowl compelled the federal government to undertake large soil conservation policies; I evaluate the effects of those policies over fifty years. Results show that the Voluntary Acreage Reduction program had beneficial long-term effects, increasing areas planted in grassland and decreasing soil erosion in areas that were previously heavily planted in corn and wheat. Land conservation policies also include creating and nurturing local institutions for management. In my third chapter, I study what factors affected the speed with which local environmental institutions – the Soil Conservation Districts (SCDs) – were created to improve farmland resource management. I use historical documents to create a dataset on exactly when SCDs were established during the period of 1936-1956. A duration analysis of those data finds that SCDs did rise up more rapidly in places hit hardest by crop failure, but institutional change was slower in areas dominated by farms managed by tenants who did not have legal authority to help create SCDs to help preserve their farms.
Issue Date:2019-07-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Aparna Howlader
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-26
Date Deposited:2019-08

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