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Applying a bio-economic optimal control model to charcoal production: The case of slash and burn agriculture in Mexico

Arrocha, Fernando and Villena, Mauricio G. (2011): Applying a bio-economic optimal control model to charcoal production: The case of slash and burn agriculture in Mexico.

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the relationship between rural poverty and forest land management in the context of charcoal production under slash and burn. An optimal control model determines how a representative household makes decisions on the allocation of forest areas to work and use them to affect the renewable resource base on which it depends. The proposed optimal control model for charcoal production is built upon the agricultural model of slash and burn by Pascual and Barbier (2007). This theoretical model is calibrated with data from the community of Chunkanán, Campeche, Mexico. The simulation and comparison of the traditional forestry slash and burn management with the Forest Management Program for the Exploitation of Timber Resources (FMETR), proposed by the regulatory authority as a policy of use and conservation of forest resources, showed that the former is indeed sustainable from an ecological point of view and efficient from an economic point of view, implying that households allocate an optimal amount of work and forest biomass.

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