Seminar Series: Christine Moser
Christine Moser of Western Michigan University will present "Voter Response to Conservation Policies in Forested Areas of Madagascar."
Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot with both high rates of endemic species and high rates of deforestation. Therefore many in the international community praised President Marc Ravalomanana, first elected president in 2001, for his pledge to more than triple the area under protection over five years. Because many local residents depended on the forests for wood, agricultural land and other resources, the government vowed to work with local communities to develop sustainable management plans. But how did locals view these policies? Was this seen as a power-grab cutting off access to lands they have used for generations or as a needed reform to preserve dwindling resources? Would increasing tourist revenues from eco-tourism help convince skeptics? Using nation-wide data at the commune (i.e., county) level, this paper explores how voting patterns in Ravalomanana's re-election bid in 2006 differed in communities likely to be affected by these policies. The data set includes several different environmental measures, including forested area, deforestation rates, and information on forest use, as well as a wide variety of control variables, such as ethnic composition, access to roads, and economic indicators.