Is Deforestation the Legacy of Transmigration?
Although it is widely believed that the Indonesian Transmigration Program, the world's largest government-sponsored voluntary migration program, caused significant deforestation in the outer islands of Indonesia, to date, there has been no empirical evidence to support such claims. This paper examines both the short- and long-run effects of transmigration on deforestation using archival data, Landsat and MODIS satellite images, and a program evaluation approach. I find that an additional transmigrant family causes an initial 3.4 km2 of forest cover loss but has minimal impact in the long-run. The main mechanisms responsible for the increased deforestation appear to be the disruption of local social cohesion and the heightened perception of property rights insecurity. Using estimates of wood production and legal logging, I also find that the presence of transmigrants is correlated with illegal logging.