Was global deforestation under lockdown?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic and government responses led to a halt in economic activity. While this reduced pollution in urban areas, its effect on deforestation in areas outside of cities is unclear. Deforestation may have decreased due to the restrictions on economic activity, but, it may have increased due to the drying up of alternative income sources. We analyzed bi-weekly data on tropical forests worldwide in relation to the dates when different countries implemented lockdown restrictions. Our analysis found that while lockdowns did reduce mobility in forest municipalities, the average effect on deforestation was not significant. However, we did observe variations in the impact of lockdowns on deforestation based on the share of lockdown-vulnerable GDP and the level of government effectiveness. These results stand across tropical countries and within Colombia. These findings highlight the importance of alternative income sources and strong state capacity for effective policies aimed at reducing deforestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironment and Development Economics
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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