Use Forests or Lose Them? Regulated Timber Extraction and Tree Cover Loss in Mexico

Peer Reviewed
31 December 2020

Allen Blackman, Laura Villalobos


A growing set of researchers and policymakers argue, somewhat counterintuitively, that regulated timber extraction can help conserve forests in developing countries by discouraging illegal logging and land-use change. However, rigorous tests of that hypothesis are rare. We use matched difference-in-differences models to measure the net effect on tree cover loss of awarding timber extraction permits to Mexican communal land-holding organizations. Our findings suggest that permits do not have large systematic effects on tree cover loss. We are able to discern statistically significant effects only in select subgroups of forest management units, not in our national sample. Moreover, subgroup effects are relatively modest and vary in sign. Subgroups in which permits have discernible effects are defined by, among other things, levels of privation and the opportunity costs of retaining forest cover—results that suggest forest governance and the demand for cleared land moderate permits’ effects.

Files and links

Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Blackman, A., & Villalobos, L. (2021). Use Forests or Lose Them? Regulated Timber Extraction and Tree Cover Loss in Mexico. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 8(1), 125–163. doi:10.1086/710837

Request a publication

Due to Copyright we cannot publish this article but you are very welcome to request a copy from the author. Please just fill in the information beneath.

Authors I want to contact
Publication | 27 January 2022