Risk coping strategies in tropical forests: floods, illnesses, and resource extraction
This paper examines coping strategies in response to covariate flood shocks and idiosyncratic health shocks among riverine peasant households in the Amazonian tropical forests. An assessment of coping strategies reveals that although precautionary savings (food stock and livestock) are important for both types of shocks, ex post labor supply responses in the form of upland cropping and resource extraction (fishing and non-timber forest product gathering) are more common to cope with the flood shock depending on local environments. A bivariate probit model examines what factors shape households' adoption decisions of gathering and fishing as a coping strategy. The analysis reveals an important insurance role of non-timber forest product gathering for the asset poor who have limited options for coping with flood risk. Targeted interventions and programs for the poor to promote sustainable forest resource use are discussed.
1 Corresponding author. The authors wish to thank their field team – Carlos Rengifo, Doris Diaz and Jaime Salazar – for their advice, enthusiasm, and exceptional efforts on behalf of this project. Special thanks are owed also to the ribereños of the region who so willingly participated in the survey, enduring long interviews on repeat visits to their homes. Xiaogan Li and Nathalie Gons undertook the laborious task of data cleaning and Xiaowen Mo offered valuable research support. This paper has benefited significantly by the comments and suggestions of Andrea Cattaneo, Eric Edmonds, Yasuyuki Sawada, and Gerald Shively as well as from conference participants at the Northeastern Universities Development Consortium (2001, Boston) and the Second World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists (2002, Monterey), seminar participants at Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (FASID), and two anonymous referees. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of this project by the following organizations: The Nature Conservancy, Ford Foundation, AVINA/North-South Center of the University of Miami, FASID, The Institute for the Study of World Politics, The Mellon Foundation, The Matsushita International Foundation, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, The Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, McGill University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l'Aide á la Recherche. Any errors of interpretation are solely the responsibility of the authors.