Forests as pathways to prosperity: Empirical insights and conceptual advances

Daniel C. Miller, Reem Hajjar

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


The role of forests in supporting current consumption and helping people cope with seasonal, climatic, and other stressors is increasingly well understood. But can forests help rural households climb out of poverty? And can forests provide a pathway to prosperity that includes more widely shared economic benefits and improvements in other aspects of human well-being? This introduction to the Special Issue on “Forests as Pathways to Prosperity” reviews the literature on forest livelihoods in developing countries to synthesize evidence relating to these questions. We find that available research primarily examines poverty mitigation aspects of forests rather than the potential role of forest conservation, management, and use in alleviating poverty or promoting broader prosperity. To increase understanding of forest-livelihood relationships we propose a framework based on the concept of prosperity, which draws particular attention to human well-being beyond economic and material dimensions. We argue that explicitly taking a more expansive view can enable better accounting for the diverse ways forests contribute to human welfare, expand the constituency for forests, and inform policies to more sustainably manage forests within wider landscapes. Together, our review and the other articles in this volume advance these objectives by providing new analytical frameworks, empirical insights, and theoretical understanding to build knowledge on linkages between forests, poverty, and broader prosperity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104647
JournalWorld Development
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Forest based livelihoods
  • Forest conservation
  • Human well-being
  • Poverty traps
  • Sustainable forest management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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