Defended thesis

“Economic development and forest transition”, Julien Wolfersberger

Published on 22 June 2015

June 2015

Julien Wolfersberger defended his PhD “Economic development and forest transition” at the Laboratory of forestry economics.


Deforestation in tropical countries is a major environmental issue resulting from economic development. Using the forest transition concept, which describes the long-term change of a country’s forest cover, this PhD thesis offers a new perspective for the economic analysis of this issue. Forest transition presents several analytical assets such as the possibility to consider cumulative deforestation, to link economic development and forest harvesting, or to consider different types of forest cover. This is of importance for the design of public policies which aim at reducing deforestation in developing countries. Hence, this thesis aims at outlining the economic causes leading to forest transition, and to provide recommendations that can be applied to tropical countries where deforestation occurs. This thesis is divided into three chapters, each of them being an academic article submitted to an international peer-reviewed journal. In the first chapter, an empirical analysis of forest transition and land-use change was implemented. Doing this, the determinants of the end of deforestation in developing countries were identified. In the second chapter, a refinement was brought to the economic models of forest conversion by developing a forest transition model differentiating primary and secondary forests. This feature, in line with empirical facts, is critical since it makes it possible to accurately assess the ecological components of long-term forest change. In the third chapter, economic growth was modeled in a developing country experiencing a forest transition. In this context, the implementation of different REDD+ programs and their impact on growth and environment were considered.

Keywords: forest transition, economic development, deforestation, public policies.