Droughts and deforestation: Does seasonality matter?

PLoS One. 2022 Oct 27;17(10):e0276667. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0276667. eCollection 2022.


Extreme weather events, particularly droughts, have strong impacts on the livelihoods of populations in rural areas. In a context of low access to insurance and credit markets, households respond to such shocks by implementing different risk-management strategies, which in turn are likely to have an impact on the environment, in particular through land-use changes and deforestation. This paper contributes to the emerging literature on the links between droughts and deforestation: (1) distinguishing responses to previously experienced droughts versus current droughts, and (2) disentangling the time of the agricultural season at which droughts occur. We show that deforestation declines whenever a drought occurs during the growing season, while it increases whenever a drought occurs during the harvesting season. These impacts are mitigated within protected areas and are exacerbated in more accessible locations, i.e., areas within 4 hours of travel time of main/major cities. By contrast, deforestation outcomes following droughts that occur during the planting season depend on whether the crop considered is maize or cassava.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Droughts*
  • Seasons
  • Zea mays

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.