Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 25–44 | Cite as

Econometric Evidence on Forest Ecosystem Services: Deforestation and Flooding in Malaysia

  • Jie-Sheng Tan-Soo
  • Norliyana Adnan
  • Ismariah Ahmad
  • Subhrendu K. Pattanayak
  • Jeffrey R. Vincent


Governments around the world are increasingly invoking hydrological services, such as flood mitigation and water purification, as a justification for forest conservation programs in upstream areas. Yet, rigorous empirical evidence that these programs are actually delivering the intended services remains scant. We investigate the effect of deforestation on flood-mitigation services in Peninsular Malaysia during 1984–2000, a period when detailed data on both flood events and land-use change are available for 31 river basins. Floods are the most common natural disaster in tropical regions, but the ability of tropical forests to mitigate large-scale floods associated with heavy rainfall events remains disputed. We find that the conversion of inland tropical forests to oil palm and rubber plantations significantly increased the number of days flooded during the wettest months of the year. Our results demonstrate the importance of using disaggregated land-use data, controlling for potentially confounding factors, and applying appropriate estimators in econometric studies on forest ecosystem services.


Ecosystem service Tropical forests Floods Oil palm Rubber Malaysia 



This study was funded by the Global Environment Facility through the United Nations Development Programme (MAL/04/G31). Additional support was provided by the Government of Malaysia, through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Forest Research Institute Malaysia, and by the Center for International Forestry Research. The cooperation of the Departments of Agriculture, Drainage and Irrigation, and Statistics of the Government of Malaysia is gratefully acknowledged as are helpful comments by M Jeuland, D Richter, and E Sills.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jie-Sheng Tan-Soo
    • 1
  • Norliyana Adnan
    • 3
  • Ismariah Ahmad
    • 3
  • Subhrendu K. Pattanayak
    • 2
  • Jeffrey R. Vincent
    • 2
  1. 1.Duke Global Health Institute, Nicholas School of the Environment and Sanford School of Public PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Nicholas School of the Environment and Sanford School of Public PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Forest Research Institute MalaysiaKepongMalaysia

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