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The socioeconomic determinants of legal and illegal smallholder logging

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Using data from a household survey covering colonists and indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon, this paper analyzes the socioeconomic determinants of legal and illegal smallholder timber harvesting. The results of a multinomial probit model reveal that non-harvesting households are statistically likely to be poor, to receive nonfarm income, to have smaller areas in primary forest and to reside nearer population centers. Illegal logging is more likely to be carried out by poor households that do not have nonfarm income, have larger areas in forest and reside farther away from urban areas. Legal loggers, in contrast, are likely to come from wealthier households that have legal property rights to the land they possess or control but do not take part in nonfarm employment. Ethnicity has no effect on the likelihood of harvesting timber (either legally or illegally) and has only a marginally significant effect on non-harvesting households. The implications of these findings for policy are explored in the conclusions.

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